Assad lays wreath at Damascus ceremony

AFP , Saturday 6 Oct 2012

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad attended a military ceremony in Damascus to to mark the anniversary of the 1973 Middle East

Handout photo of Syria's President al-Assad placing flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in a ceremony to mark the 39th anniversary of the 1973 October War with Israel, in Damascus (Reuters)

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad laid a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier in Damascus on Saturday to mark the anniversary of the 1973 Middle East war, as his troops faced mounting losses at the hands of a domestic uprising.

State television carried pictures of Assad laying the wreath at the monument at Mount Kassioun on the outskirts of the capital.

The beleaguered president has made a handful of appearances since the uprising began against his regime in March 2011, usually receiving diplomats for closed-door meetings as opposed to rarer public outings.

In September, Assad notably received international peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi as well as Ali Akbar Salehi, foreign minister of Syria's staunch regional ally Iran.

In August, Assad joined prayers at a Damascus mosque for the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr.

But the last major public foray was March 27, when Assad toured the former rebel stronghold of Baba Amr in Homs city in a bid to show normalcy had returned after hundreds of people, many of them civilians, were killed when the army overran the district.

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