Syrian FM Moalem Dies at 79
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ERBIL - Syria's long-time Foreign Minister Walid al-Moalem died at the age of 79 in Damascus on Monday, a statement confirmed.

Moalem was known for being a strong supporter and defender of Bashar al-Assad, the president of the Syrian regime, and he played a major role in the crackdowns on protesters that sparked in 2011.

The cause of his death was not revealed to the media, but the 79-year-old diplomat had been in poor health and suffered from heart problems for several years.

Asharq Al-Awsat cited a source close to the Syrian regime as pointing out that his deputy, veteran diplomat Faisal Mekdad, would be the new top diplomat.

Moalem was appointed as the foreign minister in 2006, while he also served as a deputy premier.