Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Saturday named seven new ministers to tackle the country's deteriorating humanitarian crisis and economy hit hard by a nearly two-year conflict, DPA reported.
Al-Assad has split the ministry of labour and social affairs in two, and appointed a woman, Kinda Shmat, to head the latter, said SANA.
Since a pro-democracy uprising erupted against his rule in March 2011, al-Assad has carried out several cabinet reshuffles, the most recent in August.
A Western diplomat in Beirut called the latest changes a "move by al-Assad aimed to show he is still in control."
The military has recently stepped up its campaign to drive out rebels from areas near the capital Damascus, where the insurgents are believed to have strongholds.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that government jets hit the district of al-Qadam, south of Damascus, causing unspecified casualties.
At least 38 civilians, including children, were killed in an attack by government troops on the village of al-Juneid near the northern province of Aleppo, said the Observatory, citing reports from activists.
Negotiations, meanwhile, failed to end the fighting between local Kurds and opposition rebels near the Turkish border, Kurdish websites reported.
The talks, led by Syrian opposition figure Michel Kilo, were held between Kurdish fighters from the northern area of Ras al-Ain and the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA), said reports.
The Supreme Kurdish Committee, the highest Kurdish body in Syria, said it had rejected a demand by the FSA that the rebels run the entire area and its border outlets.
The violence in Ras al-Ain comes seven months after government forces withdrew from predominantly Kurdish areas, leaving residents to defend their areas against the insurgents fighting to unseat al-Assad.
Syria's Kurds are divided over the revolt against al-Assad.
Rebels, mainly from the jihadist al-Nusra Front, have since attacked Kurdish regions, activists said. The United States has designated the group as a terrorist organization.
Lebanon's Christian Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi arrived in Damascus to attend on Sunday the enthronement of Syria's Greek Orthodox leader, Yuahanna al-Yazigi.
Al-Rahi and many non-Orthodox patriarchs are expected to attend the inauguration ceremony in a show of solidarity for Syria's Christian community.
Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said he did not believe al-Assad would cave in.
"The (Syrian) regime is not looking for an exit ... Given the home make-up, the regime will have to stay in power and fight until the end," al-Maliki said in an interview with the pan-Arab newspaper, Asharq Al Awsat, published Saturday.
Al-Maliki, a Shiite, added that Alawites and other minorities in Syria were fighting for "survival" against opposition rebels believed to be mainly Sunni Muslims.
Al-Assad belongs to the Alawite minority, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.
"The regime also knows that what happened in Iraq is not permitted to recur in Syria," said al-Maliki, referring to the US-led invasion of Iraq that toppled the dictator Saddam Hussein.
Al-Maliki is close to Shiite Iran, which is a staunch ally of al-Assad.
More than 60,000 people have been killed in Syria's war, according to UN estimates.
The conflict has also forced more than 700,000 Syrians to flee to neighbouring countries including Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq.