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Syrian government denies Assad convoy attacked - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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A handout picture released by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on August 8, 2013 shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (C) and Syrian Grand Mufti Ahmed Hassun (2ndR) attending the Eid al-Fitr morning prayer in Damascus (AFP PHOTO/HO/SANA)

A handout picture released by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on August 8, 2013, shows Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad (C) and Syrian grand mufti Ahmed Hassun (2nd R) attending the Eid Al-Fitr morning prayer in Damascus. (AFP PHOTO/HO/SANA)

London, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Syrian government has denied claims that the convoy of president Bashar Al-Assad was attacked as it traveled through Damascus on Thursday morning.

A member of the Tahrir Al-Sham rebel group told Reuters news agency that it had fired several mortar rounds at Assad’s convoy as it made its way through the Syrian capital’s Malki district, on the way to a mosque for a service to commemorate the Eid Al-Fitr festival.

He added that the rebels had conducted surveillance of the area and had received intelligence of the president’s movements.

Firas Al-Bitar told the news agency: “The attack rattled the regime, even if Assad was not hit. . . . There were two motorcades, one containing Assad and a decoy. We targeted the correct one.”

Another group, Liwa Al-Islam, also claimed responsibility for the attack. A spokesman for the group told journalists: “We have monitors in the area who confirm that the attack hit some of the president’s guards. . . . It also hit checkpoints in the area. It was at 7:20 in the morning.”

Witnesses reported smoke rising over the Malki district on Thursday morning, and said the area had been sealed off by Syrian security forces.

Syrian information minister Omran Al-Zoubi told a state TV channel that reports that Assad’s motorcade had been struck were inaccurate, and that “the news is completely baseless and a mere reflection of the wishes and illusions of some media outlets and the governments standing behind them.”

In addition, Syrian state television broadcast footage it said showed an uninjured President Assad attending a religious service at the Anas bin Malek Mosque in the area.

State news agency SANA also reported that Assad attended services there without incident.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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