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Syrian president performs Eid prayers in Damascus

08-20-2012 11:35 BJT Special Report:Crisis in Syria |

DAMASCUS, Aug. 19 (Xinhua) -- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad performed Sunday the special prayers of Eid al-Fitr at al-Hamad mosque in the Syrian capital of Damascus, the state media said.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad performs Eid al-Fitr prayers at Al-Hamad Mosque in Mohajirin Quarter, Damascus, Syria, Aug. 19, 2012. (Xinhua/SANA)

The state TV aired live footage of the prayers, in which Assad appeared, flanked by top officials and ministers.

This is Assad's first public appearance since July's blast that struck the national security headquarters in Damascus and killed four of his cronies, including his brother-in-law.

The embattled president is facing scathing international pressures over his government's alleged crackdown on his opponents.

The 17-month Syrian crisis is getting more complicated as the once-peaceful anti-government movement has dramatically turned into bloody armed insurgency with reports of al-Qaida presence in the country joining the fight against the government troops.

Reports of clashes, kidnappings and in some cases revenge crimes have become daily occurrences.

Meanwhile, members of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria have started to leave as their mandate will expire at midnight Sunday.

The mission, started in April, was hobbled from the very beginning as both parts of the conflict seemed determined to eliminate one another and both of them held the other responsible for the faltering UN efforts to solve the crisis peacefully.

The United Nations has decided not to extend the mission's mandate, but agreed to establish a civilian office in Syria, which is considered as a continued UN presence in the country in the midst of the bloody unrest.

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