Saudi authorities deployed drones to watch over nearly 2 million pilgrims as they ascended Mount Arafat at the climax of the haj pilgrimage on Sunday, part of stepped up efforts to avoid a repeat of last year’s crush.

In one of the deadliest disasters to befall the annual Muslim rite in decades, the crush killed nearly 800 pilgrims, according to Riyadh, though counts by countries of repatriated bodies showed over 2,000 people may have died, more than 400 of them Iranians.

Chanting “here I am at thy service, O Lord,” the faithful climbed the craggy hills outside Mecca where Islam holds that God tested Abraham’s faith by commanding him to sacrifice his son Ismail and the Prophet Mohammed gave his last sermon.

“I have prayed to God to have mercy on us, give us relief and resolve Syria’s crisis,” said Um Fadi, wearing a traditional long black embroidered dress and head scarf native to her home in southern Syria… see more

source: arabianbusiness