Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad made a rare appearance on Sunday to attend prayers at a mosque in the capital Damascus, state television reported.
Assad, who has only been seen in public a few times since the Syrian conflict erupted in March 2011, was shown at the Al-Hamad mosque in the capital’s northwest for prayers marking the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed.
Among those alongside Assad were Syria’s top Sunni authority, Mufti Ahmad Badreddine Hassun, and Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi.
Assad’s last public appearance was on October 15 for prayers at the time marking the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.
His latest appearance came as Western powers stepped up pressure on Syria’s divided opposition to enter talks with Assad’s regime at the start of a new round of diplomatic efforts to end the country’s 34-month conflict.