Syrian President Bashar al-Assad appeared on television for the first time in two weeks today in footage showing him meeting Saeed Jalili, the head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, in Damascus.
Assad's appearance came the day after his prime minister defected to rebels who have been waging a 17-month campaign to oust him.
Assad's absence had fuelled rumours about his health, including a hoax Twitter message yesterday that quoted Russia's ambassador to Damascus as saying Assad might have been killed.
Russian officials quickly denied the report.
In the week after a July 18 bombing which killed four members of his inner circle, Assad was shown twice in silent footage on television, swearing in a new defence minister and meeting military officials.