Shells hit Damascus as Assad attends prayers

APTOPIX Mideast Syria

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Syrian rebels say they’ve fired rockets and mortar rounds today, hitting an upscale district of Damascus where President Bashar Assad attended prayers to mark the start of a major Muslim holiday.

At least two rebel brigades said they had hit Assad’s motorcade. But Syrian state TV broadcast images of the Syrian leader attending prayers. And the information minister denied reports that the president had been attacked.

It wasn’t possible, however, to determine if the video of Assad praying was from before or after the shelling.

Assad has a residence and an office in the area targeted in the attack. It has largely been sheltered from the shelling and fighting that usually rage in the city’s impoverished suburbs.

This was Assad’s third public appearance in over a week, as the regime tries to capitalize on recent gains in the battlefield against rebels trying to force him from power.

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