Syrian state television on Thursday broadcast images of Bashar al-Assad at the presidential palace in Damascus, cutting short speculation fueled by his silence following the attack against his inner circle the previous day. A Syrian official source for his part said Assad was at the presidential palace in Damascus, where heavy fighting took place between rebels and soldiers for the past few days.
Although Syrian president rarely appears in public, his silence after the attack has fueled all sorts of rumors, including that he had left the Syrian capital to the coastal city of Latakia (northwest).
In the images broadcast by the television, Assad was seen in blue suit, receiving the new defense minister, Gen. Fahd Al-Freij, after the swearing ceremony. The photos released by the official SANA news agency were taken at the presidential palace in Damascus.
General Freij succeeded Defense Minister Gen. Daoud Rajha, who was killed in the attack on Wednesday. Besides Rajha, his Vice-Minister, General Assef Shawkat, brother in-law of the President and General Hassan Turkmani, head of the crisis unit set up to quell the revolt, were killed in the attack during a meeting at the building of National Security in Damascus.
"President Assad is at his palace where he is working normally," an official source said in Damascus. An adviser to the Syrian president made similar comments in a statement.
Meanwhile, Russia and China Thursday used their veto right for the third time against a UN resolution threatening sanctions on Assad's regime. Of fifteen members, the resolution received 11 votes in favor, 2 against and 2 abstentions (Pakistan and South Africa). The United States and France agreed that the veto would jeopardize the international mediation mission of Kofi Annan who said he was "disappointed".