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.
Egypt has drafted an antiterrorism bill that threatens at least two years in prison for those who contradict official figures when reporting on militant attacks.
The Egyptian army has launched operations in Northern Sinai, killing 63 opposition forces.
Saudi-led strikes hit party headquarters of Houthi ally former president Ali Abdullah Saleh
Foreign minister insists recent violence in restive peninsula is 'nothing more than criminal, terrorist acts'
The Lebanese group Hezbollah's television station al Manar said its members and the Syrian army entered Zabadani where oppositions have held it since 2012.
Egyptian dictatorship detains 63 Muslim Brotherhood members. Latest arrests come only days after security forces gun down nine Brotherhood members in West Cairo apartment
Saudi Arabia says it won't rule out building nuclear weapons
Egypt’s president made an unannounced visit to the Sinai Peninsula on Saturday to rally troops following attacks
Attack takes place during Iftar established by Nusra Front
The Syrian army and its allies have launched an attack on the Syrian city of Zabadani, a border city with Lebanon
In 1980s despite knowing about Saddam's plans on building up a chemical weapons arsenal, British government chose not to interfere
ISIL's Egypt affiliate, Sinai Province, claims to launch three Grad rockets toward "occupied Palestine".
13 shells had been launched on Friday by Yemen's Houthis, targeting several areas including Jizan's airport.
Thousands of supporters have filled the streets of various cities in Egypt to protest the anniversary of the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi
An Israeli general has said that Hamas has aided ISIL in Egypt by smuggling wounded through tunnels into Gaza from Sinai
US and allies struck ISIL 24 times in various locations around Syria and Iraq