DAMASCUS, Syria — Syria’s state-run news agency said John Yazigi has been elected to head the Damascus-based Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch.

He replaces Patriarch Ignatius Hazim, who died earlier this month.

Yazigi, 57, is from the Syrian city of Latakia, where he established the city’s first Christian music school. He is trained as a civil engineer.

It is estimated that the church has over a million adherents in Syria and neighboring Lebanon. Yazigi’s predecessor split his time between the two countries.