On Muslim festival, Syrians take stock of losses
ALEPPO, Syria -- A brief lull in fighting for a Muslim holiday Sunday allowed residents to take stock of their losses after three weeks of intense battles left many in Syria's largest city strapped for cash, separated from loved ones and scared of more violence ahead.
In Damascus, President Bashar Assad prayed at a mosque in his first public appearance since a bomb attack killed four security advisers July 18.
Thousands across the country marched against Assad in mosques and cemeteries after special dawn prayers marking the start of the three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday, which caps the holy month of Ramadan.
The holiday, usually a joyful time, followed a particularly bloody Ramadan when fighting in Syria's two largest cities brought large civilian populations under fire and a spike in the death toll.
"There is no holiday," said Mohammed Radwan, 34, standing near an apartment building in Aleppo's Tariq al-Bab neighborhood, which was hit by an airstrike the day before. "The electricity comes and goes, the jets fire on us and no one has any work. All we'll do today is clean up the rocks and rubble."
The fighting in Aleppo has marked the first time Assad has relied heavily on air power to bomb and strafe rebel forces who have grown adept at challenging ground troops. After three weeks of battle, the government has still not managed to defeat the rebels -- a sign of the regime's loosening grip. -- AP