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Syria's Assad replaces defence minister in surprise cabinet reshuffle Open in fullscreen

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Syria's Assad replaces defence minister in surprise cabinet reshuffle

Bashar al-Assad has reshuffled his cabinet again [Getty]

Date of publication: 1 January, 2018

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Former Syrian Defence Minister Fahd Jassem al-Freij has been replaced by Ali Abdullah Ayoub in President Assad's latest cabinet shake-up.

Syria's Defence Minister Fahd Jassem al-Freij has been replaced by President Bashar al-Assad, in a surprise cabinet reshuffle on Monday.

General Ali Abdullah Ayoub was announced as the new defence minister, Syria's state SANA news agency reported, and is believed to have ties with Iran's Revolutionary Guard.

"President Assad issued a decree, the first of 2018, naming General Ali Abdullah Ayoub minister of defence," the agency said.

Ayoub, 65-years-old, previously served as chief of general staff of the armed forces.

Freij become defence minister in July 2012 when his predecessor Daoud Rajha was killed in the bombing of a command centre in Damascus.

His deputy, Assef Shawkat, who was Assad's brother-in-law, was killed in the attack, believed to have been carried out by Syrian rebels.

Ayoub was born in Latakia, the heartland of the Assads and centre of the Alawite community, which the of the ruling family belongs to.

Also announced was Mohammed Mazen Ali Yusef as industry minister and Imad Abdullah Sara as information minister.

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