DAMASCUS: Thousands of Syrians gathered Monday in Damascus in defiance of Western strikes on the country and to celebrate the regime reconquering a former rebel bastion outside the capital, reports AFP.
The United States, France and Britain early Saturday targeted what they said were chemical weapon sites after an alleged toxic attack on Eastern Ghouta on April 7.
Later Saturday, President Bashar al-Assad’s army announced it had retaken the whole of the region east of Damascus from rebels after an almost two-month military assault. On Monday, Syrians gathered in the capital’s largest square—Umayyad Square—ahead of the anniversary of the departure of French troops from the country in 1946.
A day before the public holiday, schools took part in the demonstration at which some participants held up Syria’s national flag and portraits of Assad.
“God, Syria and Bashar—nothing more,” protesters chanted.
The square was closed off to traffic, and decorated with images of Assad in military uniform and sunglasses, as well as of his father and predecessor Hafez..