Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Syria's President Assad celebrates Eid al-Adha at mosque in Daraya, site of one of his most brutal sieges

Regime captured the Damascus suburb last month after a ruthless four-year campaign

Adam Withnall
Monday 12 September 2016 07:38 BST
Syria's President Assad celebrates Eid al-Adha at mosque in Daraya, site of one of his most brutal sieges

The Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has marked the occasion of Eid al-Adha by visiting the scene of one of his regime’s most brutal sieges, the Daraya suburb of Damascus.

Last month, rebels and their families fled Daraya after years of indiscriminate barrel bombing and bloody skirmishes, surrendering it to government forces.

The neighbourhood became a symbol of resistance against the Assad regime, and its loss was a major blow to the rebellion.

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

A photo published by the state news agency SANA showed the president kneeling at prayer in a bare hall alongside the state’s grand mufti and other worshippers.

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

Fighting continues across swathes of 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 fighters who left Daraya fled to the rebel-controlled province of Idlib in northwestern Syria, 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 relentlessly 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.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in