Hajj 2013: Syrian pilgrims pray for an end to deadly violence

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During the annual hajj pilgrimage this week, an Al Arabiya crew covering the journey across the Saudi holy sites encountered six Syrian pilgrims in the desert valley of Mina who had traveled from their cities of Homs, Raqqa and Damascus.

They prayed that the violence in their homeland, which has reportedly claimed the lives of more than 115,000 people since March 2011, would come to an end.

One pilgrim from Homs was unable to control his emotions when he was reminded of his mother. He told Al Arabiya News that if government forces hadn’t been conducting military operations inside Homs, his mother would have been able to accompany him to perform hajj.

Another Syrian pilgrim came to the holy sites to pray for forgiveness and for his detained son to be released.

Hajj officially began on Sunday when pilgrims from all over the world began travelling from the holy city of Makkah to Mina, which is roughly eight kilometers away.

For Muslims, hajj is the fifth and final pillar of Islam. It takes place in the month of Dhul Hijjah which is the 12th month of the Islamic lunar calendar.

Official statistics indicate that the number of Syrian pilgrims who arrived from abroad reached 3,500, in addition to those residing in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia said Tuesday that around 1.98 million pilgrims are performing this year's annual Muslim pilgrimage.

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