Syria: Assad appears in public to mark end of Ramadan

5000 dead during Holy month, British Intelligence helping rebels

20 August, 10:46

(ANSAmed) - ROME, AUGust 20 - Syria's President Bashar al-Assad marked the end of Ramadan yesterday with his first public appearance since a bombing in Damascus that left his Defence Minister and three security officials dead.

In images broadcast on Syrian state television, Assad attended Eid prayers at a mosque in the capital, where he was joined by senior members of the regime. It was thought that Assad would use the opportunity to deny rumours of Vice President Faruq al Sharaa's defection from the regime, but the Sunni number two was not present. Lebanese and Israeli sources yesterday claimed that Assad has already decided on a new Vice President, Minister of the Interior Mohammad al-Shaar.

The holy month of Ramadan has been one of the most brutal yet with up to 5,000 Syrians left dead, including 170 killed in fighting Sunday. According to local media reports 51 lives were claimed during intense bombardment in the province of Daraa yesterday, where 17 months ago, the rebel uprising first began. Jordan, which borders Daraa has sent a formal protest to Damascus after a four year old child was wounded by rocket fire in the territory. News of the brutality comes as UN Observers left Syria at midnight Sunday after their mandate expired. Meanwhile, sources say that British Intelligence services have passed information to Syrian rebel fighters from intelligence bases in Cyprus. "British intelligence is observing things closely from Cyprus," an intelligence official told British newspaper The Sunday Times. "The British monitor communications about movements of the government Army. The British are giving the information to the Turks and the Americans....". Similarly, German intelligence officials are said to be moored off the coast of Syria to spy on troop movements by the Assad regime. (ANSAmed).

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © Copyright ANSA