Middle East

Syrian vice president Shara has not defected: state TV

The bombing killed Turkmani and two other top regime officials including Defence Minister General Daoud Rajha and President Bashar al-Assad's brother-in-law Assef Shawkat. At right is newly appointed Syrian Defence Minister General Fahd al-Freij. AFP PHOTO/HO/SANA

DAMASCUS: Syrian Vice President Faruq al-Shara has not defected, state television said on Saturday, citing a statement from his office after media reports that he had fled.

"Mr Shara has never thought about leaving the country or going anywhere," said the television, which aired no footage of the vice president.

Shara, 73, is the most powerful Sunni Muslim figure in the minority Alawite-led regime of President Bashar Assad and has served in top posts for almost 30 years.

The television said Shara's statement also hailed the appointment Friday of new UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, the veteran Algerian diplomat who is taking over from Kofi Annan.

Shara has been vice president since 2006 and previously served as foreign minister for more than 20 years both under Assad and his father and predecessor Hafez Assad.





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