BEIRUT - Syrian state-run television has bitterly criticized the leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas for turning his back on President Bashar Assad, his one-time protector.

Syria welcomed Hamas in 1999 after Jordanian authorities expelled its leader in exile, Khaled Meshaal, accusing him of using the country for illicit activities.

Meshaal and Assad's relationship, built on enmity to Israel, fractured as Assad cracked down on opposition protests that grew into an armed uprising. Meshaal shut down Hamas's offices in Damascus in February and left the country.

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