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.