Habib: Loyal to Assad
Photo: Reuters

Syrian minister dispels rumors of death

Deposed defense minister appears on state-owned TV, says still loyal to Assad, 'Syrian Arab army'

Former Syrian Defense Minister Ali Habib appeared on Syrian state-owned television Wednesday in order to dispel rumors of his death, which were published by websites affiliated with Syrian opposition groups.


"My health condition has kept me from continuing in my position, and I was hospitalized for a few days in order to receive treatment," he explained.



Habib also expressed his loyalty to Syrian President Bashar Assad, and stressed that he would "remain a loyal soldier of the Syrian Arab army," despite being ousted by the Syrian leader earlier this week.


Habib's statement Wedneday to Syrian television


"A number of news agencies waging an incitement campaign against our country have published unfounded reports regarding the circumstances of my resignation," he said, wishing his replacement success.


Meanwhile, an activist in Deir el-Zour said Syrian troops have taken control of the eastern flashpoint city following intense shelling and gunfire.


The activist, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said the city's eastern Mattar Qadim neighborhood was the last to fall on Wednesday. The city has been under attack by President Bashar Assad's forces for four days.  


The international community has stepped up pressure on Assad, with envoys from India, Brazil and South Africa due in Damascus on Wednesday.


On Tuesday, Turkey's foreign minister urged Assad to end the killings. US officials say the Obama administration is preparing to explicitly demand his departure.


Rights groups say about 1,700 people have been killed since March.


AP contributed to this report



פרסום ראשון: 08.10.11, 11:58
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