Syrian president Bashar al-Assad was given a warm reception by the faithful on Monday when he joined in Eid al-Fitr prayers in Damascus, to mark the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.
Assad took part in prayers at the Al-Kheir mosque, in Muhajarin, near his home in northwest Damascus.
State television showed Assad being greeted by Syrian Grand Mufti Ahmed Badreddin Hassoun and, at the end of prayers, being surrounded by scores of well-wishers keen to shake his hand.
During the morning, projectiles fired by rebels slammed into parts of Damascus, particularly Muhajrin neighbourhood, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.
In his sermon to the people, the mosque’s imam, Mohammad As-Sawan, referred to the unrest in the country which has reportedly killed 170,000 people.
“One thousand three hundred days of crisis have passed over our country, 1,300 days of difficult times, of plotting by enemies and disappointments on the part of out brothers and friends,” he said in an allusion to Arab countries supporting the rebels against the Assad regime.
“The enemies of our nation have created chaos around the false Arab Spring,” he added, and they had incited “sons of the same nation to sedition”.
The Assad regime has never officially recognised the wave of opposition in the country, referring to it as “terrorism” financed from abroad and especially by the Gulf states.