Syria's Assad pictured at Eid prayers in Damascus

BEIRUT - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has made a rare public appearance at a mosque in Damascus at the start of a Muslim holiday, a photo posted on the presidency's official Twitter feed on Saturday showed.

Assad is shown seated on the floor of al-Numan bin Bashir mosque in the front row of a group of men in prayers for the Eid al-Adha celebration.

The president is not frequently seen in public in Syria, which has descended into a civil war between fighters wishing to overthrow him and pro-government forces. It appeared the picture was taken early on Saturday.

One of Assad's last public appearances was in July at the presidential palace when he was sworn in for a new term and gave a defiant speech, vowing to recover all Syria from insurgents.

The capital remains in government control but there are frequent clashes between government forces and insurgents on the outskirts.