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Eddie Mair | 05:42 UK time, Wednesday, 11 June 2008

the photo Hugh sent of the children rolling on the marble?

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Hugh writes: "It's time to reveal that they were having fun.... in the grand courtyard of the Ummayad mosque in Damascus.

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There were lots of children having fun on the marble; rolling around, playing sliding games (racing to see who could slide the furthest), playing catch, and one little boy was roaring about on a push-scooter doing skid turns.

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It's a very happy place. Even inside the main hall it's relaxed.

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During evening prayers the day I visited, while rows and rows of men (and women in a separate area) faced Mecca for their prayers, others simply sat in contemplation - and one woman took photographs with her mobile phone.


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The mosque was built in 705 AD. It was restored after a decree by the late Syrian President Hafez al-Assad. Thousands of pilgrims come here from Iran - they believe the head of the Shia Imam Hussein - killed in the Battle of Kerbala (in Iraq) - is buried here. More from Syria on PM this evening."

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