World Bulletin/News Desk
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad issued a decree to form a new government on Saturday, shaking up many cabinet posts but keeping the heads of the interior, defence and foreign ministries, state television reported.
The reappointment of Defence Minister Daoud Rajha will quash widespread rumours, previously denied by the government, that he had been assassinated by rebels who are struggling to bring down President Bashar al-Assad's rule.
The 16-month uprising, which has faced a brutal government crackdown, is increasingly being termed a civil war by foreign observers. Assad argues he is pursuing reforms even as he fights a revolt he says is led by foreign-backed militants.
But critics say Assad's appointment of Riyad Hijab as prime minister earlier in June was a sign the president was turning to hardline loyalists. Hijab formed the new government given Assad's approval, Syria TV said on Saturday.
Hijab, a former agriculture minister, is a committed member of Assad's Baath Party, which has ruled Syria for nearly four decades since his father Hafez al-Assad took power in 1970.
Most of the top government posts were given to Baathist loyalists. Critics consider the cabinet to be largely symbolic and say power in Syria remains in the hands of Assad and his close inner circle of family and security force elites.
The new cabinet follows a May 7 parliamentary election which Assad said was part of the path to reform but the opposition boycotted as a sham, insisting the president must step down.
Other than Rajha, the ministers to retain their post were Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim al-Shaar and Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem.
Several new ministries were created in the new cabinet.
The moderate Qadri Jamil, a centrist who has said he is speaking both to the government and to rebels, was appointed minister of internal commerce and consumer protection. The post is newly formed and likely to be mostly ceremonial.
A further 19 million of Yemen's 26-million population now need humanitarian aid, he told a news conference.
Netanyahu, advisors failed to adequately prepare for 2014 conflict or share intel with colleagues, state investigation finds
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Senior UN official reportedly barred from entering war-battered Taiz to assess local humanitarian situation
It remains unclear why the Fatah official was banned from entering Egypt
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Moscow is turning blind eye to regime ceasefire violations, Syrian opposition figure tells Anadolu Agency from Geneva
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Around 30 people still trapped under rubble, says a civil defense official
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Tasnim news agency said the Dehlaviyeh, a laser-guided missile, had also been successfully tested.
Opposition fighters declare capture of Tadif town from Bashar al-Assad regime
At times in the long and rambling letter, published in English and Farsi on his website, he appears to find a kindred spirit in Trump.
Since the 2011 uprising, the Arab world's most populous nation has suffered a slump in key tourism revenues, slowing economic growth and investment, double-digit inflation and falling foreign currency reserves.
In Johnson's first visit as foreign secretary to Egypt, he also discussed boosting trade, with UK company investments having reached $30 billion in 2016, according to Britain's Foreign Office.