Syrian rebels’ claims that they attacked President Bashar al-Assad’s convoy have been denied today by the information minister.
Reports that rebel rockets hit his motorcade were “dreams and illusions”, Omran Zoabi told Syrian state TV.
Rebels said they fired mortars at his convoy as it headed towards the Anas bin Malek mosque in the Malki area, where the president has a residence.
Pictures showed Bashar al-Assad unharmed at a prayer service at a Damascus mosque to mark the end of Ramadan.
Earlier, Islam Alloush of the militant Liwa al-Islam Brigade, told Reuters news agency that rebel rockets hit the president’s motorcade as it drove to the mosque in the Syrian capital.
Other activists reported rockets were fired into the same part of the city.
Bashar al-Assad unharmed at a prayer service at a Damascus mosque to mark the end of Ramadan
It was unclear whether the pictures of the president aired on Syrian state television were pre-recorded. For a brief moment they carried a “live” caption, which then swiftly vanished.
It is possible that the footage was pre-recorded, analysts said, as the reports that the president’s convoy was struck while travelling to the mosque had come around one hour previously.
All roads leading to al-Rawdha neighborhood of Damascus, where the presidential office is, were closed for security reasons before the incident, Syrian opposition sources told the pan-Arab Saudi-owned Dubai-based al-Arabiya television station.
Firas al-Bitar, a rebel leader, told al-Arabiya that 17 mortars had targeted the presidential convoy. The opposition had been given advance information on Bashar al-Assad’s movements, he asserted.
But another of the president’s opponents, Wahid Sagar, told Al Arabiya the president might have been in a different convoy to one which reportedly came under attack.
On Wednesday, Syrian government forces claimed to have killed more than 60 rebels in an ambush near Damascus.
Military sources quoted by the state news agency Sana said the victims were insurgents in the jihadist group, al-Nusra Front. They had been planning an attack on a military post, they said.
The news came as rights group Amnesty International released satellite images of Aleppo, one of Syria’s biggest cities, showing how clashes between government and rebel forces had devastated built-up areas.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was targeted by protesters who threw tomatoes and their own shoes at her motorcade during a visit to Egypt on Sunday.
Demonstrators also mockingly chanted “Monica, Monica” in reference to Bill Clinton’s extra-marital affair with Monica Lewinsky.
Hillary Clinton was on her first trip to Egypt since the election of the country’s new Islamist President, Mohammed Mursi.
During the protests in Alexandria, a tomato struck an Egyptian official in the face, and shoes and a water bottle landed near the armored cars carrying Hillary Clinton’s aides.
Hillary Clinton was targeted by protesters who threw tomatoes and their own shoes at her motorcade during a visit to Egypt
A senior State Department official said that neither Hillary Clinton nor her vehicle, which were around the corner from the incident, were struck by any of the projectiles.
As well as the shouts of “Monica”, some demonstrators chanted, “Leave, Clinton”.
The assault on her motorcade came on the day Hillary Clinton spoke at the newly re-opened U.S. consulate in Alexandria, addressing accusations that the U.S., which had long supported former president Hosni Mubarak, was meddling in Egyptian politics.
“I want to be clear that the United States is not in the business, in Egypt, of choosing winners and losers, even if we could, which of course we cannot,” Hillary Clinton said.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin joined a biker gang on Monday and led them on motorcade at a festival in Novorossiysk, a Black Sea port.
Vladimir Putin, 58, was riding a three-wheeled Harley Davidson and looking very much at home in the latest of macho stunts that have punctuated his political career.
It is well known that Putin’s eccentric photos topless horse-riding and hunting have earned him the nickname “Alpha Dog” in U.S. diplomatic circles.
After riding around for a while, black-clad Vladimir Putin boarded a Soviet-era warship in the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk, where the prime minister took part to a festival that mark the city’s liberation during the Second World War.
Vladimir Putin was riding a three wheeled Harley Davidson while he led the motorcade
During his speech at the festival, Putin called the bikers his “brothers”:
“I want to talk to you, brothers. It is cool that you do not forget the heroes of the past.
“Boys, girls you are great. Not only are you having fun while riding your bikes but you are also combining it with patriotic deeds.”
Vladimir Putin’s party, United Russia, intends to secure a 2/3 majority in December’s elections for the Duma lower house of parliament.
The 2/3 majority would give United Russia the power to change the constitution.
It seems campaigning began for real on Monday, after President Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree setting the date for the poll as December 4.
The Russian elections from next December will also set the scene for a presidential poll in March 2012.
Nor prime minister Vladimir Putin or president Dmitry Medvedev have said who will run for the presidential race.
At Novorossiysk motorcade, Putin rode along “Night Wolves” biker club members with the hard-rock club anthem in the background.
“Night Wolves” club leader is Alexander Zaldostanov, nicknamed “Surgeon”, one of Vladimir Putin’s friends.
"Night Wolves" club leader is Alexander Zaldostanov, nicknamed "Surgeon", one of Vladimir Putin's friends
During his participation at the festival, Vladimir Putin was flanked by veterans of World War Two and the conflicts in former Yugoslavia.