Syria swears in new prime minister

Aug. 11, 2012 at 7:28 PM

DAMASCUS, Syria, Aug. 11 (UPI) -- Syrian President Bashar Assad swore in newly appointed Prime Minister Wael al-Halki Saturday, as fighting continued in Aleppo and Damascus.

Al-Halki, a 48-year-old gynecologist, was appointed prime minister Thursday after Prime Minister Riad Hijab defected Aug. 5, China's state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.

Al-Halki served as secretary-general of the Baath Party's branch in the southern Daraa province between 2000 and 2004. He was appointed as head of the doctors' syndicate in 2010 and later served as health minister.

Meanwhile, Syrian troops and opposition fighters continued their battle Saturday, mainly in northern Aleppo and a Damascus suburb, Xinhua said.

In the al-Sukkari neighborhood of Aleppo, a rebel stronghold, the opposition was heavily bombarded by regime forces, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, as did the Saif al-Dawla neighborhood.

Clashes in Damascus were reported in the rebel-held area of al-Tal, the Observatory said.

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