President Hafez al-Assad and ex-Head of State Ahmad al-Khatib at Damascus University - 1978

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Seated in the front row are President Hafez al-Assad, his appointed predecessor Ahmad al-Khatib (serving as speaker of Parliament) and Prime Minister Mohammad Ali al-Halabi. Seated behind Assad is Commander of the Syrian Air Force Mohammad al-Khuly, and behind Khatib is Damascus governor and Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts Abdul Raouf al-Kassem, who became prime minister in 1980.