Reuters International

Syria's president Bashar al-Assad(4th R), prays at a mosque in a Damascus suburb of Daraya, Syria in this handout picture provided by SANA on September 12, 2016. SANA/Handout via REUTERS


BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad prayed on Monday at a mosque in a Damascus suburb that was evacuated by rebels and surrendered to government control last month, state media reported.

Assad visited the city of Daraya, southwest of Damascus, on the occasion of Eid al-Adha. Daraya had been a major symbol of the uprising against Assad, and its surrender to government forces after years of siege marked a big blow to the rebellion.

Many of the fighters left with their families to the rebel-controlled province of Idlib in northwestern Syria under a locally brokered agreement between the warring sides. Civilians were also evacuated to another government-held area near Damascus.

Assad was pictured kneeling at prayer in a bare hall alongside other worshippers, including the state's grand mufti, in a photo published by state news agency SANA.

Rebels still hold swaths of the capital's eastern outskirts.

(Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Paul Tait)


 Reuters International