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Syria: Assad makes rare public appearance

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Syria: Assad makes rare public appearance


President Bashar al-Assad has made a rare public appearance, attending prayers at a Damascus mosque to mark the start of the Muslim holiday of Eid.

The Syrian leader was filmed with his prime minister and foreign minister but not with his vice president, Farouq al-Shara, whose reported defection has been denied by the regime.

The first day of Eid also gave Assad’s opponents a chance to hold rallies. Activists reported protests across Syria including the capital.

Midnight on Sunday also marked the moment the UN observer team’s mission officially expired after four months of monitoring Kofi Annan’s failed ceasefire.

The holiday provided no respite for the residents of Aleppo. Another airstrike is said to have destroyed a building which was largely abandoned, its owners having fled the bombs. Assad’s forces have increasingly resorted to air power to hold back lightly-armed opposition activists in the country’s biggest city.

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