The Syrian government Thursday denied a claim by rebels that the psychopath Baschar al-Assad’s motorcade was attacked in Damascus.
Syrian state TV broadcast images of Assad attending prayers in the capital to mark the start of start of Eid al-Fitr, the three-day holiday that ends the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. In the state TV broadcast, Assad, dressed in a suit, was seen praying in a mosque alongside Syria’s grand mufti in the Anas bin Malik Mosque in Damascus.
It was the psychopath third public appearance in over a week as his regime tries to capitalize on recent gains on the battlefield against rebels fighting to oust him from power.
Sky News reported that a video distributed by the Tahrir al Sham rebels showed smoke rising from what it said was the Malki district, where Assad and his close aides have homes.
The group’s leader Firas al Bitar said his fighters had carried out reconnaissance of the route of Assad’s motorcade and fired 120mm artillery towards the convoy.
“The attack rattled the regime, even if Assad was not hit,” he told Reuters from an undisclosed location in the capital.
“There were two motorcades, one containing Assad and a decoy. We targeted the correct one.”
Activists on the ground told AP that three mortar rounds hit the Malki district early in the morning. The neighborhood has rarely been targeted by opposition forces during the conflict, which last year brought the rebels and their battle to the heart of the capital.
There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage in the shelling.
Assad’s troops have recently been on the offensive in central Syria, making advances near the border with Lebanon and in the city of Homs, an opposition stronghold and Syria’s third largest city.
On Wednesday, Syrian government troops ambushed a large group of rebels trudging through a desert road northeast of Damascus, killing more than 60 fighters.
In the north, where much of the territory has been under opposition control in the past year, rebels scored a rare victory earlier this week when they captured a major air base in the Aleppo province near the border with Turkey.
Syria’s crisis started as a largely peaceful uprising against Assad’s rule in March 2011. It turned into a civil war after opposition supporters took up arms to fight a brutal government crackdown. More than 100,000 people have been killed in the violence so far, according to U.N. figures.
Reuters contributed to this article.