MIDDLE EAST

Syria’s Assad names new defense and other ministers

Bashar al-Assad appointed General Ali Abdullah Ayoub as defence minister, Mohammed Mazen Ali Yousef as industry minister and Imad Abullah Sarah as information minister. (Reuters)

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Monday issued a decree appointing new ministers for defense, industry and information, Syrian state television reported.

He appointed General Ali Abdullah Ayoub as defence minister, Mohammed Mazen Ali Yousef as industry minister and Imad Abullah Sarah as information minister, state television reported, citing the decree.

Ayoub, who was previously chief of staff in the army, is a member of Assad's Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam. He replaces Fahad Jassim al-Freij.

The new information minister, Sarah, was previously the head of Syria radio and television.

Changes of senior ministers are not unusual in Syria. The shake-up of senior military positions comes after a year of battlefield victories against anti-Assad rebels and ISIS.

Assad now appears militarily unassailable, but relies heavily on his allies Russia and Iran, as well as regional militias backed by Iran. Some important parts of Syria remain out of his hands and the economy has been crippled by sanctions.

Russia is pushing a diplomatic track to seek a political settlement to the war.

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Last Update: Monday, 1 January 2018 KSA 18:52 - GMT 15:52
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