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.
Twelve Palestinians, including six children were injured when an Israeli aircraft fired on them in the city of Beit Lahia.
The move envisions forming a unity government within five weeks and holding national elections six months.
Candido Van-Dunem, who had held the post since 2010, will be replaced by Joao Lourenco, a former secretary-general of the MPLA ruling party
About 22,000 people took refuge in the U.N. base in Bentiu, the capital of the oil producing Unity State, after the killings
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State media said Maher Abdel-Hafiz Hajjar - a member of the government-sanctioned opposition and formerly a member of the Communist Party- had nominated himself
Moscow is "extremely surprised by the distorted interpretation (of the agreement) by the Kiev authorities and the American partners," the foreign ministry said.
A remote Sunni village of roughly 2,000 people, Tfail is surrounded on three sides by Syria, and the primary route to the rest of Lebanon goes through its neighbour.
Russia conducted military exercises in its south-eastern Rostov region, which borders Ukraine
Northern England is overall less wealthy than the country's south, which hosts England's capital and economic powerhouse London.
Rights groups accuse Azerbaijan of muzzling dissent and jailing opponents, charges the government denies.
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China's modernising navy has taken an increasingly assertive stance in guarding what it sees as its sovereign maritime territory in the East China and South China Seas.
Christian Arabs, who are actually Palestinians, are among the 1.6 million Arabs who refused to leave their homes despite the Israeli occupation.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye appealed to his Chinese counterpart as the North looks set to defy UN obligations.