The possibility of a drawn out civil war in Syria looms, as fighting continues across the country. Assad's army has ceded ground elsewhere in order to focus its resources on fighting in Aleppo. In the meantime, the U.N. may name a new envoy to replace Kofi Annan next week.
Diplomats told Reuters that veteran Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi could be named next week to replace the U.N.-Arab League Syria envoy Kofi Annan, who resigned in frustration at the international deadlock on how to end the violence.
But they warned their could be last-minute changes if a key government had concerns or the candidate had second thoughts.
Assad, engaged in an all-consuming fight with his mostly Sunni opponents, appointed a Sunni as his new prime minister on Thursday after his predecessor fled on Monday in the highest-level defection so far in the uprising that began 17 months ago.
Wael al-Halki, from the southern province of Deraa where the revolt began, replaces Riyad Hijab, who had spent only two months in the job before making a dramatic escape across the border to Jordan.
Assad's authority was already shaken by the assassination last month of four of his top security officials and by rebel gains in Damascus, Aleppo and swathes of rural Syria.
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