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Assad sacks Syrian prime minister as economic crisis rumbles on

Imad Khamis is the sixth prime minister to serve under the president in 20 years of rule
Imad Khamis answering journalists' questions following a meeting in the Syrian capital Damascus in 2013 (AFP)

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has sacked his prime minister as the war-torn country continues to struggle with a spiralling economic crisis.

Prime Minister Imad Khamis, who has occupied the role since 2016, was removed on Thursday, though no explanation has been given for his dismissal.

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"President Assad issues decree number 143 for year 2020 which relieves the prime minister Imad Muhammad Dib Khamis of his position," said the presidency in a statement.

Engineer Hussein Arnous, public works minister, has been appointed as his replacement.

Khamis was the sixth prime minister to serve under Assad, who has ruled the country since 2000.

In the last week Syria has grappled with a collapsing currency and damaging economic sanctions.

Rare protests against Assad's rule began in the city of Sweida on Sunday, demonstrating against falling living standards and corruption.

The country has been wracked by a brutal nine-year civil war, which began in 2011 after security forces opened fire on anti-government protesters.