Syrian TV via AFP - Getty Images
State-run Syrian television showed footage of President Bashar Assad (left) and Syrian Grand Mufti Ahmed Hassun attending the morning prayer in Damascus.
AMMAN - Syria's government has denied claims that President Bashar Assad's motorcade was hit by rebel rocket fire as he traveled to a mosque to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.
"The news is wholly untrue," information minister Omran Zoabi told Syrian state television, which aired pictures of Assad showing him unharmed and praying at the Anas bin Malek Mosque.
Earlier, the Tahrir al-Sham rebel brigade, a unit of the Free Syrian Army, said in a statement: "After conducting reconnaissance [on] the timing and course of Bashar al-Assad's motorcade the area was hit with artillery. We pray to God and await the field report about the results."
Islam Alloush of the Liwa al-Islam, another rebel brigade, told Reuters that rebels fired rockets which hit Assad's motorcade as he was heading to attend the prayers.
"Assad was not hit but the information we have based from sources within the regime is that there were casualties within his entourage," Allooush said. Other activists also reported rockets were fired into the Malki area, which was sealed off by security forces. Assad appeared unharmed in the footage.
A spokesman for the Free Syrian Army told NBC News that there had been a rocket attack on the convoy but that there was no verification on whether the motorcade was actually hit.
The spokesman added that, on previous instances of rocket attacks aimed at Assad himself, state television had aired archive pictures of the president.
NBC News' Charlene Gubash contributed to this report.
First published August 8 2013, 6:43 AM