A picture uploaded on the official Facebook page of the Syrian Presidency on March 11, 2014, shows President Bashar al-Assad (L) visiting the Dweir shelter for displaced people in Adra, northeast of Damascus
A picture uploaded on the official Facebook page of the Syrian Presidency on March 11, 2014, shows President Bashar al-Assad (L) visiting the Dweir shelter for displaced people in Adra, northeast of Damascus © - Syrian Presidency Facebook Page/AFP/File
A picture uploaded on the official Facebook page of the Syrian Presidency on March 11, 2014, shows President Bashar al-Assad (L) visiting the Dweir shelter for displaced people in Adra, northeast of Damascus
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AFP
Last updated: March 12, 2014

Syria's Assad leaves stronghold to see displaced groups outside Damascus

Banner Icon Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is making a rare trip outside the capital to meet people displaced by the country's three-year-old civil war, state media reported on Wednesday.

"President Assad is inspecting conditions for the displaced in Damascus province," state television said.

"President Assad is touring shelters for the displaced... and listening to their needs.

"The state continues to secure basic necessities for the displaced until they can return to their homes in Adra and elsewhere," state television quoted Assad as saying.

State news agency SANA later said Assad added: "The state is continuing to fight terrorism and the terrorists who forced citizens out of their homes and committed ugly crimes against them."

The government refers to rebels fighting Assad's rule as terrorists.

SANA said Assad was visiting Adra northeast of the capital, and his office's official Twitter account released a photograph of him talking to women and children at the town's Dweir shelter.

In pictures published by SANA, Assad is shown standing next to his bodyguards, talking to children and hugging them.

Another picture shows Assad, wearing a suit, white shirt and no tie, shaking hands with an elderly woman in a headscarf, while another shows him along with a man, four children and two veiled women.

Adra, considered a strategic gateway to Damascus, has seen frequent clashes between the army and rebels.

Control of the town and its adjacent industrial park remain contested, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Assad rarely makes public appearances, and most of those have been within the confines of the capital.

He was last reported at a public event in January, when he attended prayers at a Damascus mosque.

Assad is expected to seek a new term in a presidential election planned for the middle of the year, despite the raging conflict that the Observatory says has killed more than 140,000 people since March 2011.

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