Syria prays for rain at President Assad's request

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian citizens pray for rain during the Friday prayer, in Hasakeh city, east Syria, Friday, Dec. 29, 2017. Syrian President Bashar Assad directed imams to pray for rain in this week's prayers through a circular distributed by the Religious Affairs Ministry, SANA state news agency reported Tuesday. (SANA via AP)

DAMASCUS, Syria — Imams across Syria are directing Muslims to pray for rain during this week's congregational Friday prayers.

Syrian President Bashar Assad directed imams to pray for rain in this week's prayers through a circular distributed by the Religious Affairs Ministry, SANA state news agency reported Tuesday.

SANA says insufficient rains and a changing climate have hurt crop yields this year. Most of Syria's precipitation comes in winter.

Friday prayers are the most important weekly prayers in the Muslim world. Imams deliver weekly sermons on topics ranging from family to politics and, in this case, the weather.

In Israel, Jewish worshippers prayed for rain at the Western Wall in Jerusalem on Thursday after Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel called for prayers to relieve the country's drought-hit farming sector.

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