BEIRUT (AP) - Syrian state-run news agency SANA says President Bashar Assad has appointed a new prime minister to replace one who defected this week to neighboring Jordan.
Assad appointed Wael Nader al-Halqi, elevating him from the post of health minister.
Halqi is a member of Assad's ruling Baath party and hails from the southern city of Daraa, birthplace of the Syrian uprising.
The 48-year-old held the post of secretary general of the Daraa branch of the Baath party from 2000-2004. He was appointed head of the doctors' syndicate in 2010.
The former premier, Riad Hijab, completed his defection by crossing into Jordan early Wednesday. His defection was a humiliating blow for Assad's regime.