September 24, 2015 / 3:35 PM / 4 years ago

Assad prays at Damascus mosque, addresses Syrians on Eid

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (4th L) attends prayers on the first day of Eid al-Adha at al-Adel mosque in Damascus, Syria, in this handout photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA on September 24, 2015. REUTERS/SANA/Handout via Reuters

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad prayed alongside government and religious officials in a Damascus mosque on Thursday, state media reported, making a rare public appearance for the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday.

Footage broadcast by state TV showed Assad sitting listening to a sermon. He addressed Syrians during a brief outdoor interview afterwards, in a video posted on social media.

“A blessed Eid al-Adha to all Syrians, who are facing death and destruction,” Assad said, and praised soldiers fighting “terrorists” - the government’s term for all insurgents battling against it in a four-year-old civil war.

Assad has rarely appeared in public during the conflict, which has killed an estimated 250,000 people and driven more than 11 million from their homes.

He has given two broadcast interviews in the last month, however.

Reporting by John Davison; editing by Andrew Roche

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