Assad renames Halqi as Syria PM

A picture released by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on April 29, 2013, shows Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi giving a press conference in Damascus (AFP Photo/)

Damascus (AFP) - President Bashar al-Assad on Sunday renamed Wael al-Halqi as war-torn Syria's prime minister and asked him to form a new government, state media reported.

The appointment comes three weeks after Assad was inaugurated for a third seven-year term following an election that Syria's exiled opposition and its Western backers denounced as a sham.

Halqi first became premier in June 2012, succeeding Riad Hijab who defected and accused Assad regime's of "war crimes and genocide".

He escaped an April 2013 assassination attempt in Damascus.

Assad was sworn in for a new term on July 16, warning Western and Arab governments of the backfire they face for their support of the armed revolt in Syria.

The 48-year-old won a June election denounced as a "farce" by his detractors, three years into a devastating war that has killed more than 170,000 people and uprooted millions.

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