THE Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday got off to a bloody start in Syria, with at least 84 people dying across the country and Damascus rocked by clashes.

The fresh surge of violence came as the new UN peace envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, said it was no longer a question of “preventing civil war” in Syria but ending it.

“There are a lot of people who say that we must avoid civil war in Syria. Me, I believe that we are already there for some time now. What’s necessary is to stop the civil war and that is not going to be easy,” Mr Brahimi said in an interview with French television.

The dissident group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 16 bodies were found in Al-Tall village, a rebel stronghold in Damascus province, and another 34 soldiers, 28 civilians and 22 rebels died across the country.

The British-based Observatory, which gathers information from a network of activists on the ground, reported clashes between rebels and loyalist troops in several southern Damascus neighbourhoods, where loud explosions were heard.

 President Bashar al-Assad made a rare public appearance with top officials for Eid prayers at a Damascus mosque.

Syria’s popular uprising, which began in March 2011, has spiralled into an armed conflict.