Assad makes rare public appearance at mosque

 

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The Independent Online

The Syrian President Bashar al-Assad tried keep up the pretence that it was business as usual yesterday as he attended prayers for the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr, but the rare public appearance gave clues to the pressures he is facing.

As demonstrators took to the streets across the country on the feast day that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, state media broadcast footage of the embattled premier in public for the first time since a bomb blast killed four of his closest advisors.

And activists jumped on the absence of the vice-president at his side as proof that the regime stalwart has defected, while the choice of mosque was also cited as evidence that his grip on security has loosened.

Flanked by ministers and religious officials, Assad sat cross-legged as the sermon described Syria as the victim of a conspiracy perpetrated by the West, Israel and the Arab world to bring terrorism to its shores.

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