BEIRUT: Syrian President Bashar Assad attended an Eid al-Fitr sermon in a Damascus mosque Monday, in one of his rare public appearances since the outbreak of the rebellion to overthrow his rule over three years ago.
The state-run news agency, SANA, said “Assad and senior government officials participated in Eid al-Fitr prayers this morning in the Damascus mosque of Al-Khair.”
Assad, who is fighting a bloody rebellion to topple him, has been appearing in public occasionally.
His last public appearance was earlier this month when he was sworn in for a third seven-year term as Syria's president after winning an election dismissed as a sham by opponents. However, the ceremony was moved to the presidential palace from its traditional setting at the Parliament building in central Damascus, presumably due to security concerns.
Over 170,000 people have been killed in the raging conflict that started in March 2011 with popular demonstrations inspired by the “Arab Spring” revolutions to press for political change and an end to almost four decades of Baath Party rule under Assad’s