President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday issued Decree No. 275 for 2012 appointing Gen. Fahd Jassem al-Freij as Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Army and the Armed Forces.
The President also issued Decree No. 275 for 2012 appointing Gen. al-Freij as Minister of Defense.
Gen. al-Freij said in a statement that the General Command of the Army and the Armed Forces announced the martyrdom of Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Army and the Armed Forces, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense Gen. Dawood Rajiha and Deputy Minister of Defense Gen. Asef Shawkat "as a result of a terrorist criminal act that targeted a regular meeting of ministers and authorities leaders in Damascus on July 18th, 2012."
He stressed that "the Armed Forces will not be deterred by this coward terrorist act from continuing their sacred duties to chasing down the criminal terrorist gangs and cutting off every hand that harms the security of the homeland and citizens."
Gen. al-Freij dismissed in a phone call with the Syrian TV the reports of al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya channels on the Syrian Arab Army as "false and fabricated news that is completely untrue" and aimed at undermining the steadfastness the Syrian Arab Army and people’s unity behind the leadership of President Bashar al-Assad. 
He stressed the falseness of the news broadcast by these channels on military defections taking place in Idleb and al-Midan neighborhood in Damascus and the Third Armored Brigade and on explosions in the Fourth Division.
The Minister emphasized that the Armed Forces are firm and steadfast at all their positions and are chasing the terrorist groups to foil the conspiracy targeting Syria’s steadfastness and dignity.
Gen. al-Freij was born in Hama in January 1st, 1950. He joined the Military Academy and graduated on January 1st in 1971 with the rank of Second Lieutenant, specialized in Armored Vehicles. He was ranked Lieutenant General on July 1st, 2001 and General on July 1st, 2009.
He held several leadership positions, the latest was Chief of the General Staff on August 10th, 2011. He was awarded several military merits throughout his military service. He is married and has three children.
Source: Syrian Arab News Agency