The Main Stream

Jul 20, 2012 12:37 AM

Assad seen swearing-in new defense chief

BEIRUT, LEBANON - Syria's Bashar Assad has once again been able to count on his allies, Russia and China.

On Thursday, they vetoed a western-backed a U.N. Security Council resolution aimed at pressuring Assad's government to end the escalating civil war in Syria.

The vote came on a day when Assad was seen on Syrian state TV, swearing in a new defense minister -- a successor to the man who was among three officials killed in a bombing yesterday in Damascus. Rebels have claimed responsibility for the attack.

In Damascus on Thursday, government troops carried out a wide-ranging assault aimed at snuffing out the opposition. Anti-regime activists say troops used mortars, tanks and helicopter gunships against rebels throughout the city and its suburbs.

Rebels do appear to be making startling gains as the civil war intensifies.

An Iraqi army general says about a half-dozen rebels took over a Syrian border crossing near the Iraqi town of Qaim. There are four major border posts with Iraq.

He says rebels also overtook a Syrian army outpost near the Syrian-Iraq border after clashes that killed 21 Syrian soldiers.

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