Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
Photo: EPA
Defense Minister Ehud Barak
Photo: Atta Awisat
Report: Assad mulls forming new cabinet
Damas Post website claims Syrian president to declare scheme to set up new government with opposition members; stresses army's crackdown on protesters legal
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is expected to make a speech in the upcoming days, supposedly announcing his intention to establish a new government which will include Opposition members as independent politicians, Syria's Damas Post news site reported Monday.


According to the website, linked to Assad's regime, the president has conducted many meetings with senior officials in the past three days, and was briefed on their discussions with Syrian opposition members. It was further reported that Assad has been consulting regional leaders ahead of his upcoming speech.


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The Syrian website quoted Damascus sources claiming Assad will emphasize the importance of local law on protests, as well as stress that Syria's armed forces are operating according to that law.


Assad support rally (Photo: EPA)  


In his last public interview in December 2011, Assad denied responsibility for the killing of thousands of anti-government protesters. He told ABC News that he does not control the forces implementing his country's brutal crackdown.


During the interview, the beleaguered Syrian ruler said that although he is president he does not “own the country, so they're not my forces.”


n the heavily-promoted interview with Barbara Walters, Assad said the mounting international effort to impose sanctions on Syria did not worry him, and that any violence by government forces was the result of individual mistakes, not government policy.


"We don't kill our people ... no government in the world kills its people, unless it's led by a crazy person," ABC quoted Assad as saying.


According to the UN, more than 4,000 people were killed in Syria since the civil uprising against Assad's regime began. The world body said the events in Syria are considered "civil war."


'Nearing end of its days'

Defense Minister Ehud Barak briefed the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on regional developments Monday.


He reiterated that all signs are indicating to the fact that "Assad's regime in Syria in on its last legs… it's hard to say when it will meet its end, but there's no doubt that it's nearing the end of its days."


Syria, he noted, has yet to come up with an alternative to the current regime: "The international community understands that, which is why – at this point – it's refraining from intervening in Syria."


The Arab world's aversion of Assad's brutality also serves a pressure factor on Damascus and, as are the dwindling ranks of the Syrian Army and the dire financial and political straits the country has been gripped by since March 2011.


"The regime's fall will be a massive blow to the Iran-Syria- Hezbollah axis," he concluded.


Meanwhile, Armed Syrian rebels captured dozens of members of the security forces by seizing two military checkpoints in the northern province of Idlib, the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.


It said the army deserters also clashed with security forces at a third checkpoint, killing and wounding an unspecified number of troops loyal to President Assad.


Reuters contributed to this report




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