Syrian President Bashar al-Assad appoints Health Minister Wael al-Halki as prime minister, after the defection earlier this week of Prime Minister Riyad Hijab.
Halki, born in 1964, is from the southern province of Deraa where the 17-month-old uprising against Assad erupted. He replaces caretaker premier Omar Ghalawanji who was appointed hours after Hijab's defection.
Married with four children Halki graduated from Damascus University's faculty of medicine in 1987.
Like Hijab, Halki is from Syria's Sunni Muslim majority. Sunnis have been the driving force of the 17-month-old uprising.
On Monday (August 5), Assad suffered the embarrassment of seeing his prime minister, Riyad Hijab, defect after only two months in office. Hijab fled to Jordan with his family.
Yet even such high-profile defections and outside diplomatic pressure seem unlikely to deflect Assad from what has become a bitter struggle for survival between mostly Sunni Muslim rebels and a ruling system dominated by the president's minority Alawite sect, an esoteric offshoot of Shi'ite Islam.
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