President Bashar al-Assad on Saturday announced the creation of an ad hoc committee tasked with preparing a new constitution for Syria within four months, the official SANA news agency said.
It said Assad issued a decree establishing the national committee to draft a new constitution in a period "not exceeding four months from the date of its creation."
The 29-member committee, headed by former justice minister Mizhar al-Annbary, includes Qadri Jamil, who led a Syrian delegation to Russia on Tuesday.
Mohammed Said Bkheitan, a senior official in the ruling Baath party, said earlier this week the new document would require a two-thirds approval of the Assad-dominated parliament before being submitted to a referendum.
A new constitution has been a key demand of a protest movement that erupted in March 15 -- initially calling for greater freedoms and later demanding the ouster of the Assad regime.
The decision comes one day after activists said security forces opened fire and killed 12 people during rallies held in support of defecting soldiers in several towns and cities.
UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said on Friday that more than 3,000 people, including 187 children, have been killed in the brutal crackdown on dissent.