Battling terrorism major challenge for Syria: president

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad Sunday said that battling terrorism was a major challenge for the new government, media reported.

Assad made the remarks during the inauguration ceremony of the newly-formed government Sunday, in which the president hailed the Syrian forces’ patriotism and their remarkable achievements, Xinhua reported citing the state-run SANA news agency.

The president also stressed that fighting terrorism must go along with achieving national reconciliation, which is being implemented by the Syrian army and the rebels in many areas.

He underscored the need for reconstruction after years of violence to ensure the basic needs of and services to the people.

Last week, Assad issued a decree to form a new government under incumbent Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi, in which 19 ministers still remain in offices, including Defence Minister Fahed Jassem, Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem and Interior Minister Mohammad Sha’ar, with 15 new appointments.

The formation of the new government has been criticised by the Syria’s opposition groups as “nothing new”, as all major ministries have kept their head officials.

Assad was sworn in July 16 after winning a third term in the latest presidential elections.