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Syria appoints veteran diplomat Faisal Mekdad as foreign minister

Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad leaves the hotel, where the team of chemichal experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) are residing, on 15 April 2018, in Damascus. [LOUAI BESHARA/AFP via Getty Images]
Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad leaves the hotel, where the team of chemichal experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) are residing, on 15 April 2018, in Damascus. [LOUAI BESHARA/AFP via Getty Images]

Syria named veteran diplomat Faisal Mekdad as foreign minister on Sunday to replace Walid Moalem, who died last week, state media reported, Reuters reports.

Mekdad, 66, had been deputy foreign minister since 2006. He has also held a string of diplomatic posts, including envoy to the United Nations.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad also appointed Bashar al-Jaafari, currently ambassador to the United Nations, as deputy foreign minister.

Moalem was a staunch defender of Assad's bloody crackdown on peaceful protesters in 2011, which sparked a conflict that has now lasted almost a decade.

Moalem died last Monday at the age of 79, after suffering years of heart problems.

READ: Iran vows to crush any Israeli attempt to hit its "advisory" role in Syria 

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