BEIRUT (AP) — The Syrian president replaced two Cabinet ministers on Thursday, state TV said, a minor government reshuffle amid rising consumer prices and a grinding civil war, now in its fifth year.
The TV said Bashar Assad named Rima Qadiri to replace Kinda Shammat as minister of social affairs. Jamal Chahine was appointed minister of internal trade and consumer protection, replacing Hassane Safieh. No reason was given for the changes.
Syria's conflict, which began in March 2011, has killed 250,000 people and led to one of the worst refugee crisis in decades, with more than 11 million of the prewar population of 23 million driven from their homes. Of those, some 4 million have fled to neighboring nations.
Also Thursday, Human Rights Watch called on the U.N. Security Council to impose an arms embargo on Assad's government following airstrikes on a rebel-held suburb of Douma this week that killed more than 100 people.
Many of those killed in Sunday's attacks that targeted Douma's popular markets and residential areas were civilians. The New York-based watchdog also urged the U.N. to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court.
Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East director at HRW, said bombing a market full of shoppers and vendors shows the Syrian government's "appalling disregard for civilians."
He said the Security Council should bring the same commitment to ending indiscriminate strikes on civilians as it has to chemical attacks.
In Damascus, Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem told Egyptian Al-Nahar TV that his government was battling "terrorists" who "use civilians as shields." Syria's government refers to rebels as terrorists.
Al-Moallem also claimed that "massacres in Douma and other places are fabricated."