During a visit to Damascus, Hamas seeks to normalise relations with Syria

by IANS |

Damascus, Oct 20 (IANS) A senior Hamas official announced that that the Palestinian nationalist organisation has restored ties with Syria after 10 years.

"We agreed with President (Bashar al) Assad to turn the page on the past," Khalil Al-Hayya, a senior official in charge of Hamas's bureau of Arab and Islamic Relations, told reporters here on Wednesday.

His remarks came after a meeting between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and a delegation made up of representatives from Hamas and several Palestinian factions in Damascus, reports Xinhua news agency.

Al-Hayya added that the organisation's decision to sever ties with Damascus and its support for the anti-government rebels was a "mistake," adding the decision to restore relations with Syrian government was unanimously made by Hamas leadership.

According to a statement issued by the Syrian Presidency after the meeting, Assad reiterated his government's support for the Palestinian cause, while members of the Palestinian delegation expressed their gratitude for Syrian government's support of the Palestinian people and the sacrifices Dmascus has made in that regard.

Damascus had served as the headquarters for Hamas since 1999.

The movement's leadership left Syria after the start of the Syrian Civil War in 2012 and is now based in Qatar and Turkey.

During the press conference on Wednesday, Al-Hayya said both Qatar and Turkey did not oppose after being informed by Hamas of its decision to restore relations with Damascus.

Other Palestinian factions in Damascus, who, unlike Hamas, stayed in Syria throughout the crisis, have welcomed the normalisation of relations.

"We are happy with the restoration of relations between Syria and Hamas," Talal Naji, secretary-general of the General Command of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, said in a statement on Wednesday.

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