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“It reminds me of the early days of the revolution, the days when people could go out and protest peacefully,” Damascus-based activist Khaled al-Shami said. Security was tight around the capital, and police forces erected additional checkpoints on main roads. In side streets, people performed prayers and protested freely, al-Shami said.

“It seems there is an attempt by both sides to abide by this truce, at least in Damascus,” al-Shami said, adding that the truce was “a good thing that unfortunately will not last.”

The short holiday cease-fire was the only thing a divided international community could agree on after the failure of a more ambitious plan for an open-ended truce and political transition talks by Brahimi’s predecessor, former U.N. chief Kofi Annan, in April.

Brahimi has not said what was supposed to happen when the truce expires on Monday, an ominous sign since Assad and opposition leaders disagree sharply on how to resolve the conflict. Assad refuses to resign, while some opposition leaders say his departure is a prerequisite for any political talks. The fragmented opposition factions disagree over whether to negotiate with Assad at all.

The first serious eruption of fighting on Friday involved a radical Islamic group, Jabhat al-Nusra, which is fighting with the rebels and rejected the cease-fire from the outset. The group clashed Friday with regime forces for control of a military base outside of a strategic town, Maaret al-Numan on the road to the northern city of Aleppo, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a network of activists on the ground.

Fierce fighting has been going on there for several days.

Opposition fighters seized Maaret al-Numan, which lies along the main highway between Aleppo and Damascus, earlier this month. Their presence has disrupted the ability of the Syrian army to send supplies and reinforcements to the northwest, where troops are bogged down in a stalemate with the rebels in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city.

Activists said three people were killed in shelling of the Damascus suburb of Harasta and two people died as a result of sniper fire. There were no reports of clashes or protests at the time of the attacks, the Observatory said.

Rami Abdul-Rahman, director of the Observatory, said there was a substantial drop in the level of fighting.

“There are not too many clashes in Syria, not too many people died and no airplanes in the sky,” he said.

Syria’s state news agency said Assad attended holiday prayers in Al-Afram Mosque in Al-Muhajireen district of Damascus. The embattled president was shown briefly on TV, sitting on the mosque floor and praying. He was later seen smiling and shaking hands with worshippers.

Assad has rarely appeared in public during the uprising. He was last shown on state TV Oct. 6, when he laid a wreath to mark the anniversary of the outbreak of the 1973 Arab-Israel war.

More than 35,000 people have been killed, including more than 8,000 government troops, since the uprising against Assad began, according to activists.

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Associated Press writer Zeina Karam in Beirut contributed to this report.