Syria's Assad forms government, 11 new ministers

Photo: Syria's Assad forms government, 11 new ministers / Arab World

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad formed a new government on Wednesday, two months after his reelection, leaving key ministries untouched as a brutal war continues to ravage his country, AFP reported.

The new line-up includes 11 new ministers, but leaves Prime Minister Wael al-Halaqi, Foreign Minister Walid Muallem and Defence Minister General Fahd al-Freij in their posts.

The ministers of interior, justice, religious affairs, information and presidential affairs are also among those unaffected by the changes.

Among the new faces is Hassan al-Nuri, who will become minister of administrative development after his failed election run against Assad in this year's June 3 presidential vote.

Assad won the election, which was Syria's first multi-candidate presidential contest and came three years into its civil war, with 88.7 percent of the vote.

Most of the new ministers were in economic postings, in a potential nod to the dire economic straits in which Syria finds itself after more than three years of war and the deaths of 190,000 people.

The new line-up includes the creation of the post of minister of administrative development, and replaces the ministers of external commerce, hydraulic resources, transport, housing, economy, communication and health among others.

According to the United Nations, three in four Syrians live in poverty, with more than half living in extreme poverty.

The conflict has left many Syrians unable to meet even their basic needs and pushed unemployment beyond 50 percent.

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