Syria raids Hamas offices months after group's leaders exit

By REUTERS
November 7, 2012 15:26

 
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Syrian security forces have raided and sealed the Damascus office of Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal, who left the city months ago along with other leaders of the Palestinian Islamist group, Hamas said on Wednesday.

Relations between Hamas and long-time ally Syria have soured since Mashaal and other senior officials quietly quit Damascus late last year after President Bashar Assad stepped up a crackdown on anti-government protests.

Syria is home to at least 500,000 Palestinians, according to the United Nations. Syria's uprising has split loyalties, with many Palestinians sympathetic to the 19-month-old uprising by their fellow Sunni Muslims, and others backing Assad, whose Alawite faith derives from Shi'ite Islam.

In recent weeks, dozens of Palestinians have been killed by Syrian army shelling of rebel positions in and around the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria, opposition campaigners said.

Mashaal's office, which had also served as his residence and the group's main headquarters in Damascus, was raided on Monday, Hamas said in a statement.

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