Syria's Assad to address new government as unrest continues
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will address the newly formed government on Saturday, official sources said, as the unrest in the country continues for a second month, DPA reported.
This will be al-Assad's second public address since anti-government protests demanding greater freedoms, and in some instances the president's ouster, began on March 15.
Al-Assad will chair the first session of the new cabinet and will deliver a speech, where he is expected to discuss reform and fighting corruption in the country as well as regional and international affairs.
Al-Assad appointed a new cabinet on Thursday, around two weeks after he asked the former government to resign.
Headed by premier Adel Safar, a former minister of agriculture, the new cabinet includes new ministers of the interior, finance, and information.
However, key positions of the foreign and defence ministers remained the same.
The new cabinet is part of several overtures by al-Assad that have failed to appease protesters.
Mass rallies broke out Friday after the weekly noon prayers as thousands took to the streets demanding freedom and more rights.
Despite weeks of violence against protesters, in which dozens of people have been killed, Friday's protest was notably peaceful.
State media reported one policeman was killed in the central industrial city of Homs.
Hundreds of detained protesters were also released Thursday.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported most detainees, who were accused of taking part in anti-government protests, had been tortured.
The US-based Human Rights Watch also accused Syrian security of arbitrarily detaining hundreds of protesters across the country, subjecting them to torture and ill treatment since anti-government demonstrations began in March 15.
Al-Assad has been in power since 2000, following the death of his father Hafiz al-Assad.
The president and state media have repeatedly blamed conspirators for the deadly unrest surrounding recent anti-government protests.