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Where Is Syria’s President?

Syrian TV on Thursday showed video of President Bashar al-Assad, the first images broadcast of him since a deadly attack on top officials a day earlier.

The video, of al-Assad with newly named Defense Minister Gen. Fahd Jassem al-Freij, came amid growing speculation about al-Assad’s whereabouts. Some reports suggested he might have left the capital.

There was nothing in the video to indicate immediately when it was taken, but Syrian TV reported that al-Freij had taken his oath in front of al-Assad.

Although al-Assad has not often appeared on television or in public events during the near 17-month crisis gripping his country, it is unusual for a leader not to address a nation in the wake of a major bombing, and as violence rages in the capital city.

The blast at a government building in Damascus killed three top officials, one of whom also was the president’s brother-in-law.

Half a world away at U.N. headquarters in New York, numerous world leaders were slamming al-Assad’s regime — and condemning Russia and China for vetoing a new Security Council resolution aimed at halting the violence.

The two countries are “failing the people of Syria,” said Britain’s U.N. ambassador, Mark Lyall Grant, who was first to speak at the Security Council meeting after the vote. “The effect of their actions is to protect a brutal regime.”


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