BEIRUT, Aug 19 (Reuters) – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad made his first appearance in public since a July bombing that killed four top security officials, attending prayers at a Damascus mosque on Sunday to mark the start of the Muslim holiday of Eid, state TV showed.
The first day of Eid also gave Assad’s opponents a chance to rally and activists reported protests around Syria, including in the capital, on a holiday that marked the end of the Islamic holy fasting month of Ramadan. Fighting raged on around Syria, killing more than 100 people, an activist group reported.
Battling a 17-month-old uprising against 42 years of rule by his family, Assad was filmed at prayer with his prime minister and foreign minister but not with his vice president, Farouq al-Shara, whose reported defection was denied the previous day.
Shaken by a July 18 bomb attack in Damascus and defections – including that of his last prime minister – Assad’s recent appearances on state TV had previously been restricted to footage of him conducting official business. He was shown swearing in the new prime minister a week ago.
Syria’s civil war has intensified since the bombing that killed members of Assad’s inner circle, including his defence minister and brother-in-law.
Assad was pictured sitting cross-legged at a mosque in the Damascus residential district of Muhajirin listening to a sermon in which Syria was described as a victim of “terrorism” and a conspiracy hatched by the United States, Israel, the West and Arabs – a reference to Gulf states which back the revolt.
Sheikh Mohammad Kheir Ghantous said the plot would not “defeat our Islam, our ideology and our determination”.
Dressed in a suit and tie, Assad smiled as he greeted officials including senior members of his Baath Party.
In attendance were Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem and Prime Minister Wael al-Halki. He is the replacement for Riyad Hijab, a Sunni who has joined the opposition to Assad since his defection was announced on Aug. 6.
Hijab was the highest-level Syrian official to desert the government so far. Reports on Saturday that Shara, also a Sunni, had tried to bolt to Jordan drew a denial from the government.
Shara, 73, had “never thought for a moment about leaving the country”, according to a statement from his office broadcast on state television. Shara, whose cousin – an intelligence officer – announced his own defection on Thursday, comes from Deraa province where the revolt against Assad begun.
To read more, visit:http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/08/19/syria-crisis-idINL6E8JJ3HN20120819
Don’t let the MSM censor your news as America becomes Great Again. Over 500,000 Americans receive our daily dose of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness along with Breaking News direct to their inbox—and you can too. Sign up to receive news and views from The 1776Coalition!
We know how important your privacy is and your information is SAFE with us. We’ll never sell
your email address and you can unsubscribe at any time directly from your inbox.