Muslims throughout the world have been marking Eid al-Adha, but in war-torn Syria there is little to celebrate as most people struggle to meet their basic needs: food, water, and shelter.
Their plight has been highlighted by Arabic media reports that cite a fatwa, or religious ruling, by a local imam that allows people who are desperately hungry to eat dogs and cats.
Eating dog, cat or donkey is forbidden under Islamic dietary laws.
The imam in the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in the capital, Damascus, reportedly said at a mosque Friday that dog, cat and donkey meat could be eaten "after reaching a desperate need and the stores of food were inadequate to feed the population under the siege."
Yarmouk has been besieged for months by Syrian government forces seeking to flush out rebel fighters.
During the Eid al-Adha holiday, one of Islam's most revered observances, Muslims around the world sacrifice sheep and share the meat with the poor. It corresponds with the height of the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia that annually draws 2 million Muslims.
A YouTube video purports to show a group of religious leaders outside Damascus issuing a fatwa permitting the eating of cats, kittens, donkeys, and animals killed in shelling.
The man reading the statement appeals to the world, and particularly to Muslims who are completing the Hajj pilgrimage, to think of the Syrian children "dying of hunger" while the viewers' stomachs are full.
"How can't they just stand for us, for our children?" the sheikh asks. "Do they want us to get to the point when we are forced to eat the flesh of our dead martyrs and our beloved just to survive?"
CNN cannot independently confirm the authenticity of the video.
'We are living in despair'
At the Atmeh refugee camp in Idlib province in northern Syria, some refugees set up improvised vendor stands for the celebration -- but drew few customers who could afford their goods.
"Before the crisis, during Eid, we used to go to the shops and buy items, we were happy," said Suad Zein. "Eid was a wonderful holiday here. Now these days I can't even buy my boy a pair of trousers, or shoes, or even a loaf of bread.
"I have eight children. I can't support them all. We are living in despair."
Said another: "We have nothing to celebrate. We used to celebrate with food, drink, desserts. We used to make pastries. ... Now there's nothing."
Some refugees in Aleppo, Syria, were more fortunate. A benefactor donated sheep for the traditional animal sacrifice, which were to be slaughtered and distributed among families in need, a man in charge of the slaughter said.
The U.N. food agency, the World Food Programme, warned last month that the violence in Syria was making it hard to get aid to those in need. It estimated that 4 million people in the country were unable to produce or buy enough food.
Eid al-Adha commemorates when God appeared in a dream to Abraham -- known as Ibrahim to Muslims -- and asked him to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience. As Abraham was about to perform the sacrifice, God stopped him and gave him a sheep to kill in place of his son. Versions of the story also appear in the Torah and in the Bible's Old Testament.
The four-day celebration is also known as the Feast of Sacrifice, or Greater Eid. It is the longer of two Eid holidays observed by Muslims. Eid al-Fitr, or Little Eid, follows the holy month of Ramadan.
Asma al-Assad makes rare appearance
A rare interview with Asma al-Assad, wife of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, aired Tuesday on Syrian state TV, showing her as she visited the Daughters of Martyrs' school in Damascus.
The first lady, wearing a gray sweater with the Syrian flag in the center, is shown being greeted with applause from dozens of Syrian girls and planting olive trees with them.
The olive tree is a symbol of giving and peace, she says, as well as "a symbol of life and endurance, those who sacrificed and are sacrificing for this homeland are doing that for us so we can live and prosper in this land."
The interviewer asks Asma al-Assad, who lived in Britain before her marriage to Syria's president, about past rumors that she had left the war-torn country for Russia, Lebanon or Britain.
Smiling, she replies, "I am here, I exist here. My husband and my children are present here in Syria. It is quite rational for me to be here with them. And just like the majority of the Syrians, I was raised to love the homeland and I grew up with that notion that wherever I'd travel or lived before, and no matter how long people stay away, there is nothing more precious than the homeland."