People pray on the first day of the fasting month of Ramadan outside Ottoman-era Sultanahmet Mosque, also known as the Blue Mosque, in Istanbul, Turkey May 27, 2017. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem
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The world's 1.5 billion Muslims began observing the holy fasting month of Ramadan on Saturday, blighted by conflict and bloodshed in countries ranging from Afghanistan to Libya.Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam during which Muslims are supposed to devote themselves to praying, giving to charity and fasting from dawn to dusk.Although for many Ramadan is a time for families to gather and break the fast with an iftar meal at sunset and socialize, this year it has been marked by violence.Residents of west Mosul in northern Iraq also did not expect a peaceful Ramadan, far from it as Iraqi forces pressed a broad assault on areas still held by ISIS extremists.Ramadan is a month generally marked by piety and sacrifice, and during which Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and having sex from dawn to dusk.US President Donald Trump, winding up his first overseas trip in office that began in Saudi Arabia, wished Muslims a "joyful Ramadan", and urged them to use the holy month to reject extremist violence.
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