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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Syrian TV Shows Assad Amid Speculation Of His Whereabouts

Agnus Dei Farrant |
July 19, 2012 | 10:01 a.m. PDT

Executive Producer


Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (Creative Commons).
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (Creative Commons).
Amid speculation of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s whereabouts after a deadly attack on his top officials Wednesday, video of the president with his newly named defense minister was broadcast on Syrian TV Thursday, CNN reported.

The video did not indicate when it was taken, but showed Assad with the new defense minister, Gen. Fahd Jassem al-Freij. Syrian TV reported that Freij took his oath in front of Assad, though the video did not show images of the ceremony.

The president has not been seen or heard from publicly since the blast at a national security building in Damascus killed three of the president’s top officials, CNN reported. Though Assad has not appeared often on television or in public events since the uprising against him began last year, CNN reported it is unusual for a leader to not address such a major bombing.

State TV reported that the officials killed Wednesday were Defense Minister Dawood Rajiha; Assad’s brother-in-law and Deputy Defense Minister Assef Shawkat; and Hasan Turkmani, Assad’s security adviser and assistant vice president. 

The blast occurred during a meeting of ministers and security officials.

The government called the attack a suicide bombing, CNN reported, but the deputy head of the opposition Free Syrian Army, Col. Malek al-Kurdi, said it was coordinated by rebel brigades in Damascus and an explosive device was detonated by remote control.  

From CNN:

Video from a Damascus suburb showed Syrians rejoicing after news spread of the bombing.

Soon after, the pro-government Shabiha militia took to the streets, attacking with knives, shooting and saying, "This is retribution for what you have done," according to an opposition activist in Damascus, who is going by the name Lena to protect her identity.

There were bodies in the streets around the Yarmouk, a Palestinian refugee camp, and people were too afraid to collect them, Lena said.

On Thursday, for the third time, Russia and China vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution that would have placed new sanctions on the Syrian government, intended to put pressure on creating a peace plan to end the 17-month-old conflict in the country, The New York Times reported.

The resolution was offered by Britain and backed by 10 other council members, including the U.S. and France, the newspaper reported. It would have given Assad 10 days to put the peace plan that he accepted three months ago into action. 

“The United Kingdom is appalled by the decision of Russia and China to veto this draft resolution aimed at ending the bloodshed in Syria,” British ambassador Sir Mark Lyall Grant told the council after the vote.

“We have missed yet another critical opportunity to work together,” U.S. ambassador Susan E. Rice said to the council.

From The New York Times:

The vote leaves in doubt the future of a 300-member United Nations mission in Syria that was sent there to observe the implementation of the peace plan, which called for a cease-fire, the Syrian military’s halt to the use of heavy weapons against the political opposition, and other measures aimed at creating the basis for a political dialogue to resolve the crisis.

The Security Council’s authorization of that mission expires on Friday.

The two countries reportedly object to any measure that could lead to outside military intervention, as what happened in Libya last year.

According to the newspaper, more than 17,000 Syrians have been killed since the uprising against Assad began in March 2011.


Read more of Neon Tommy's coverage on Syria here.

Reach Executive Producer Agnus Dei Farrant here.




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