Syria’s Assad gives Eid prayers near area seized from Daesh

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Syria’s President Bashar Assad greets his supporters during Eid Al-Adha prayers at a mosque in the town of Qara, north of Damascus, Syria, on September 1, 2017. (SANA handout via REUTERS)

BEIRUT: Syrian President Bashar Assad gave prayers on Friday for Islam’s Eid Al-Adha festival in the town of Qara, near an enclave surrendered on Monday by Daesh fighters.
Confined to Damascus for long periods in the early part of Syria’s six-year civil war, Assad has grown more confident in traveling around government-held areas as the army and its allies have won a series of victories.
Assad was shown on state television standing and kneeling on a green carpet in a packed mosque alongside Syrian religious leaders as he followed the imam giving prayers.
The departure of Daesh and other groups from the Western Qalamoun district means the border with Lebanon is Syria’s first to be controlled entirely by its army since early in the conflict.
The Daesh fighters who evacuated the district remained stuck in a convoy on Friday, two days after the US-led coalition against the jihadists used air strikes to block it from crossing into the militants’ main territory in eastern Syria.
Qara is only a few miles from the pale, dry mountains delineating the frontier with Lebanon, straddling which Daesh and other militant groups held territory until August.
The Daesh fighters in the border pocket accepted a truce and evacuation deal after simultaneous but separate offensives by the Lebanese army on one front and the Syrian army and Hezbollah on the other.
Part of an agreed exchange went ahead on Thursday as wounded Daesh fighters were swapped for the bodies of pro-government forces. But the fate of the main part of the convoy is uncertain after the coalition said it had seen the buses turning back into Syrian government territory on Thursday.
The frontline between Syrian government forces and Daesh in eastern Syria is active, as the army, aided by Russian jets and Iran-backed Shiite militias, presses an offensive to relieve its besieged enclave at Deir Al-Zor.
On Friday, a Syrian military source said the army and its allies had made an advance against Daesh in that area and had also taken several villages in a jihadist enclave in central Syria.

BEIRUT: Syrian President Bashar Assad gave prayers on Friday for Islam’s Eid Al-Adha festival in the town of Qara, near an enclave surrendered on Monday by Daesh fighters.
Confined to Damascus for long periods in the early part of Syria’s six-year civil war, Assad has grown more confident in traveling around government-held areas as the army and its allies have won a series of victories.
Assad was shown on state television standing and kneeling on a green carpet in a packed mosque alongside Syrian religious leaders as he followed the imam giving prayers.
The departure of Daesh and other groups from the Western Qalamoun district means the border with Lebanon is Syria’s first to be controlled entirely by its army since early in the conflict.
The Daesh fighters who evacuated the district remained stuck in a convoy on Friday, two days after the US-led coalition against the jihadists used air strikes to block it from crossing into the militants’ main territory in eastern Syria.
Qara is only a few miles from the pale, dry mountains delineating the frontier with Lebanon, straddling which Daesh and other militant groups held territory until August.
The Daesh fighters in the border pocket accepted a truce and evacuation deal after simultaneous but separate offensives by the Lebanese army on one front and the Syrian army and Hezbollah on the other.
Part of an agreed exchange went ahead on Thursday as wounded Daesh fighters were swapped for the bodies of pro-government forces. But the fate of the main part of the convoy is uncertain after the coalition said it had seen the buses turning back into Syrian government territory on Thursday.
The frontline between Syrian government forces and Daesh in eastern Syria is active, as the army, aided by Russian jets and Iran-backed Shiite militias, presses an offensive to relieve its besieged enclave at Deir Al-Zor.
On Friday, a Syrian military source said the army and its allies had made an advance against Daesh in that area and had also taken several villages in a jihadist enclave in central Syria.

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