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Syrian State TV Shows Assad at Mosque

An image grab taken from the state-run Syrian TV shows Syria's embattled President Bashar al-Assad (L) siting next to Grand Mufti Ahmed Hassun during a prayer to mark the birth of Islam's Prophet Mohammed in Damascus, January 24, 2013.
Syrian state television has shown President Bashar al-Assad attending prayers at a mosque in a district of northern Damascus to mark the Prophet Muhammad's birthday.

It was the first time since early January that state media have shown the president in a public setting.

The broadcast showed Assad kneeling in the Al-Afram mosque flanked by Syria's Grand Mufti Ahmad Hassoun. The state TV said the broadcast was live.

Earlier, Syria's minister of religious endowments, Mohammed Abdel Settar, called for "million-man prayers" at mosques on Friday to appeal for the re-establishment of security in the country.

"Prayers will be held after Friday services in Syria's mosques with the appeal for a return to security and safety in the homeland," Settar said, quoted by state news agency SANA.

Assad's broadcast appearance came as government fighters and rebels continued to battle for control of town and villages ringing the capital. There were reports of Syrian warplanes bombing rebel-held areas.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.