Reuters International

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad speaks during an interview with Australia's SBS News channel in this handout picture provided by SANA on July 1, 2016. SANA/Handout via REUTERS

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AMMAN (Reuters) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, fighting a civil war that has ruined the country economically and fragmented it regions, issued a decree to form a new cabinet on Sunday that kept key ministers in place.

The cabinet comes after he appointed on June 22 a new government led by former electricity minister Emad Khamis, a member of Assad's Baath political party since 1977

The lineup announced on state media keeps the key defence, foreign affairs and interior portfolios unchanged.

Ex-central banker Adeeb Mayaleh, who has played a leading role in defending the local currency after its steep falls against the dollar, was appointed economy minister.

The Syrian conflict has cost the country more than $200 billion in economic losses and damage to infrastructure, driving its GDP down to less than half its 2011 level.

It has also caused the Syrian pound to lose more than 90 percent of its value despite concerted attempts to support it.

Critics say Syrian governments do not wield much political power in a system dominated by the president and the powerful security forces.

The Damascus-based government controls most of the war-torn country's major population centers in the west, with the exceptions of Idlib and the rebel-held neighborhoods of Aleppo, once Syria's biggest city.

Kurdish forces control vast areas along the Turkish border, and Islamic State holds Raqqa and Deir al-Zor provinces in the east.

(Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

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