Syria's Assad in presidential palace: aide
DAMASCUS - Agence France-Presse
In this Oct. 6, 2011 file photo provided by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad, left, stands with Syrian Defense Minister Dawoud Rajha, right. AP PhotoSyrian President Bashar al-Assad was in the presidential palace in Damascus today, a close aide told AFP, as speculation about his whereabouts spread after his silence over a deadly bombing.
"He is in the presidential palace in Damascus with his staff and is directing the destiny of the country," said the unnamed source, who is in direct contact with him.
The official SANA news agency also announced that Assad had sworn in new Defence Minister Fahd al-Freij.
Freij's predecessor, General Daoud Rajha, was killed in the bombing at security headquarters in Damascus on Wednesday along with Assad's brother-in-law, Assef Shawkat, and crisis cell chief General Hassan Turkmani.
The embattled head of state rarely makes public statements and has so far not commented on the bombing, claimed by the rebel Free Syrian Army, or appeared in public since then.
Since the anti-regime revolt broke out in March 2011, Assad has made six public speeches and given several interviews to Syrian and foreign media.
His most recent speech was on June 2, when he said he wanted to stamp out the revolt, which he described as "terrorism."