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News In Brief

Vice-presidents appointed to ease Assad's workload

Syria has for the first time appointed three vice-presidents, including President Hafez Assad's younger brother, to ease the President's workload, diplomatic sources said Thursday.

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They said the move was part of a government shuffle, which Syrian officials have described as a routine procedure after four years of the same Cabinet.

Mr. Assad's vice-presidents would be his brother Rifaat Assad, commander of Syria's defense forces; longtime Foreign Minister Abdel-Halim Khaddam; and the assistant regional secretary of the ruling Arab Socialist Baath Party, Zuheir Masharqa, the sources said.