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Eid celebrations mark end of Muslim holy month

Atta Kenare, AFP | Iranian Muslims perform Eid al-Fitr prayers in western Tehran on June 15, 2018.

Muslims around the world celebrate the holiday of Eid al-Fitr on Friday, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan when the faithful fast from sunrise to sunset.

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In Afghanistan, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani touted a three-day ceasefire with the Taliban in an address to the nation heralding the Islamic holiday.

The cease-fire took effect at midnight Thursday and lasts through the three-day holiday.

Ghani used the opportunity to appeal for a lengthier ceasefire and called for the Taliban to come to the negotiating table instead of returning to the battlefield.

The Taliban agreed to the ceasefire but leader Haibaitullah Akhunzada reiterated his demand for talks with the US before sitting down with the Afghan government.

In war-torn Syria, President Bashar al-Assad attended Eid al-Fitr prayers at a mosque in Tartous, a town in the coastal region that has remained loyal to the president through seven years of civil war.

The coastal region is home to Syria's minority Alawite population that has been the core of Assad's support. Assad, an Alawite, traces his family's origins to Qardaha, a town in the mountains nearby.

In Iran, a key Assad supporter, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addressed the nation during holiday prayers.

He praised citizens for showing up at massive rallies last Friday in support of the Palestinians on al-Quds, or Jerusalem Day. That day was initiated by Iran in 1979 to express support for the Palestinians and oppose Israel.

"This year and despite hot weather, people participated in Quds-day rallies more remarkable than previous years," Khamenei said.

President Hassan Rouhani, in an Eid al-Fitr message, added: "I believe the land of Palestine will be returned to owners of the land with the help by god."

In Gaza, Palestinians performed the traditional morning prayer near the enclave's perimeter fence with Israel, as part of weeks-long protests against a blockade of the territory.

The protests have been led by Hamas, the Islamic militant group ruling Gaza, with turnout driven by despair over blockade-linked hardships.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh joined about 2,000 worshippers Friday in one of the areas near the fence, pledging that protests would continue.

More than 120 Palestinian protesters have been killed and more than 3,800 wounded by Israeli army fire since March.

(FRANCE 24 with AP)

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