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Syrian leaders attend holiday prayers

Syria’s President Bashar Assad appeared in public for the first time in six weeks when he attended prayers to celebrate the end of the holy month of Ramadan in a Damascus mosque.

Bashar Assad was joined on Sunday by his prime minister but not his vice president, Farouk al-Shara whose reported defection has been denied by the regime.

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Syrian president makes rare public appearance

The sermon described Syria as the victim of a conspiracy hatched by the United States, Israel, the West and Arab states.

Bashar Assad has not been seen in public since the July bomb blast which killed four security officials, including his brother-in-law.

Opposition activists reported from London that 37 civilians had been killed on Sunday in Syria despite the start of the Eid holiday, a time when Muslims traditionally visit the grave sites of their relatives.

New peace envoy draws criticism

Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi has been appointed the new international mediator for Syria, replacing former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who is leaving at the end of the month. Brahimi will have ‘Joint Special Representative for Syria' as his title.

Describing the situation in Syria as "absolutely terrible," Brahimi drew criticism on Sunday from the Syrian opposition. He issued a statement saying that it was too early to say whether Assad should step down - in apparent contrast to Annan who said it was clear the Syrian leader "must leave office."

However, on Sunday, Brahimi appeared to back away from the comment, explaining that it was too early for him to say anything at all about his mission. "I was only appointed two days ago," he said.

Jordan said late on Sunday that four missiles fired by Syria had landed inside its territory, injuring one child and hurting several other people.

The Jordanian government summoned Syria’s ambassador to Amman, Bahjat Suleiman on Sunday. The missiles allegedly fell in a residential area in the border city of Al Turra.

jm, rc /jlw (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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