Syria’s President Assad celebrates Eid at Daraya mosque

Damascus, Sep 12 (IANS) Syrian President Bashar al-Assad made a rare public appearance on Monday at prayers of Eid al-Adha in the town of Daraya, which was recently surrendered by rebels.

In August, rebels and their families fled Daraya after years of indiscriminate barrel bombing and skirmishes, surrendering it to the Assad regime, the Independent reported.

According to the local media, Assad performed prayers of Eid al-Adha at the Saad Ibn Muaz Mosque in Daraya.

A photo published by the media showed Assad kneeling at prayer in a bare hall alongside the state’s grand mufti and other worshippers.

And a video aired on state TV appeared to suggest that Assad drove himself to the mosque, as if to highlight the security of what was described as the newly “liberated” suburb.

Fighting continues across the capital’s eastern outskirts, ahead of a nationwide ceasefire brokered between the US and Russia and due to begin at sunset on Monday.

Many of the rebels who left Daraya fled to Syria’s rebel-controlled Idlib province, under a locally-brokered agreement between the warring sides. Some civilians were evacuated to other government-held areas near Damascus.

In total, Daraya was blockaded and bombarded by the government for four years. It was the scene of many now-familiar videos posted by opposition activists to social media, showing regime helicopters dropping bombs on built-up areas.

The suburb was home to a number of leaders of the civilian opposition. When they finally left last month, residents kissed the ground and said their last goodbyes to family graves, not expecting to return any time soon.

–IANS

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