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.
King Abdullah criticised international inaction over Israel's offensive in Gaza, which he described as involving mass slaughter and "war crimes against humanity"
Israel has been pounding the Gaza Strip for almost four weeks, which killed at least 1458 Palestinians, almost a third of which are said to be children.
In May, US Secretary of State John Kerry urged Snowden to "man up" and return to the US to face charges.
The official People's Daily said on its microblog that the incident happened in Hotan in Xinjiang's far south, when more than 30,000 civilians involved in a counter-terror operation
Women face two problems: the lack of identity cards and an edict from elders of their Pashtun tribes forbidding them from going out to get aid
Navalny and other prominent opposition figures have ridiculed the case as politically motivated.
Prykhodko was suspected of taking part in a scheme with several others under which about 2 billion hryvnia ($172 million) was taken from the state agriculture fund
Lutfur Rahman, the Mayor of the London borough of Tower Hamlets, said “We are flying the Palestinian flag over the town hall as a humanitarian gesture of our solidarity with the people of Gaza.”
The quake had struck nine miles (14 km) southeast of Algiers and its epicentre was recorded at a relatively shallow depth of 6.2 miles
The poll research, published 47 days before the Sept. 18 vote showed that the independence movement has been largely stuck in the 42-44 percent support range
Russia is boosting its defence budget and aims to spend 21 trillion roubles ($586 billion) by the end of the decade to upgrade weapons and technology
Country's one-time largest rebel group and government begin new round of talks to settle key differences to push for passage of Bangsamoro Basic Law.
The move is the latest gesture by the country's reformist government towards abolishing the use of children in the armed forces.
Hoshiyar Zebari's comments are likely to further strain ties between Maliki's Shi'ite-led government and the Kurds, complicating efforts to form a power-sharing government
The number of confirmed deaths was 52, both officials said, after mud came crashing down on the village of Malin in India's western state of Maharashtra
Two Egyptians were killed on Thursday when Libyan guards opened fire to disperse them as they tried to leave.