Shelling near home of Syria’s Assad: locals
Residents confirm shelling as Syrian State TV shows footage of Assad praying at a Damascus mosque.
Residents of Damascus and Syrian oppposition activists say that there has been shelling near the home of President Bashar al-Assad as well as an attempt to target his convoy.
Residents of the Malki district, where Assad works and lives, have confirmed to Al Jazeera that they heard shells hitting the area. Security forces closed off roads leading to Malki and to the Ummayad mosque on Thursday.
The Syrian information minister denied Assad’s motorcade was hit.
“The news is wholly untrue,” Omran Zoabi told state television.
Reports say Assad may have been scheduled to perform Eid al-Fitr prayers at the Ummayad mosque to mark the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. Syrian state television showed footage of him praying at a mosque after the claims of an attack.
Al Jazeera’s Nisreen el-Shamayleh, reporting from Beirut in neighbouring Lebanon, said she could not confirm reports being cirulated on social media that Assad’s motorcade had been hit by the shells but that residents confirmed shelling.
Videos posted to YouTube, that Al Jazeera cannot confirm, purported to show smoke rising over Malki.
“This is the area where Assad lives and works,” she said. “It is a very upscale and supposedly safe neighbourhood, which is still under the control of the government.”
The Liwa al-Islam armed group, one of two groups that claimed responsibility for the shelling, told Al Jazeera that they had fired several rockets at Assad’s motorcade and that there were deaths and injuries. The group said it did not know whether Assad was in the convoy at the time.