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.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is mounting an attempt to airlift nationals from the Yemeni city of Sanaa.
An NSA spokeswoman had no immediate comment. Spokesmen for Fort Meade and Anne Arundel County Police referred questions to the spy agency.
Ismail Haniyeh held a phone conversation on Monday with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
"We have already pledged full support to Saudi Arabia in its operation against rebels and will join the coalition," the official said.
Presence of U.S. troops a key Taliban objection to talks with the likelihood of President's request for more U.S. support may erode trust
The appeals court had said the New York City Board of Education's regulation, created so the city would not be perceived as endorsing religious activity in a public forum, "was consistent with its constitutional duties."
Ousted Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh thanked Oman's Sultan Qaboos bin Said in a Facebook statement
Iranian news website Tabnak named the journalist as Amir Hossein Motaghi, who helped Rouhani to his landslide win in the 2013 presidential elections.
Muslim candidate Muhammadu Buhari leads Nigeria presidential vote in 6 out of 9 states announced
Ban ki Moon expresses concern for Iraqi refugees
The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation agreement signed in Turkish capital
According to witnesses, pro-Saleh forces, Houthis enter Yemen's Ad Dali after 6 days of clashes
"The question is can and will Greece fulfil the expectations that we all have," Merkel said during a visit toHelsinki.
The government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa made it compulsory for all schools to hire armed guards, raise the height of boundary walls with barbed wire and install closed-circuit televison.
"So far, we have seen no evidence of systemic manipulation of the process," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said in a joint statement.