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 warned that the Egyptian closure of the terminal will "aggravate the suffering of thousands of patients and students".
Draft resolution calls on country to abandon plans to force Rohingya Muslims to identify as 'Bengali' - term used to brand them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid Bipu said the government was working to get power running.
Municipalities in Bosnia to donate $25,000 to assist 400 Palestinian families living in darkness after Israeli attacks
Members of the Albu Nimr tribe had held out for weeks under siege by ISIL fighters in Anbar Province to the west of Baghdad, but finally ran low on ammunition, fuel and food.
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The government is reluctant to release figures on casualties, but more than 4,000 police and soldiers were killed fighting Taliban in 2013 and this year's toll is expected to be higher.
Nusra Front captured several villages in the Jabal al-Zawiya region of Idlib province and it entered the village of Deir Sonbol, the stronghold of the Revolutionaries' Front
The United States is mounting a diplomatic offensive to stop Hungary selling a stake in a Croatian energy firm to Russia
China passed a counter-espionage law on Saturday aimed at tightening state security
Junta leader and PM Prayuth Chan-ocha is a dollar millionaire; while deputy-pm has $42 million in assets
To reach Burqa, one must pass through seven other Palestinian villages and cross under a highway – which Palestinians are barred from using – that leads to the Israeli settlements.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says domestic intelligence is going through reforms following its failures in preventing neo-Nazi murders between 2000 and 2007
Friday's military coup in Burkina Faso is only the latest chapter in a decades-long pattern of coups
Israeli authorities reopened Al-Aqsa on Friday following a day of violent clashes with Palestinian protesters, but barred male worshippers under 50 years old
European Union's new executive body with one commissioner from each of the 28 EU member states officially takes office on Saturday.