Hamas: Mashaal not leaving Damascus

Group denies reports leader was asked to leave Damascus to advance Israel-Syria negotiations.

September 2, 2008 18:41
Hamas: Mashaal not leaving Damascus

Mashaal it wasnt me 224.. (photo credit: AP [file])

Hamas on Tuesday denied an al-Rai al-Aam report that the Syrian government had instructed Damascus-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal to leave and move to Sudan. According to the Kuwaiti paper's story, published earlier Tuesday, indirect negotiations between Israel and Syria were the reason Mashaal was asked to move to Sudan. Palestinian sources were quoted in the story as attributing the move to a secret deal between Syria and the Hamas leader. One of Israel's primary demands on Syria in indirect talks currently being hosted by Turkey is that it sever ties with groups such as Hamas and Hizbullah. Hamas strongly denied the report, stressing that the relationship between the group and Syria remained strong. "Our relations with Syria are strategic and very deep," Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan said. In June, Mashaal, who has been based in Syria since he was expelled from Jordan ten years ago, had stated that negotiations between Israel and Syria would not affect or harm the relations between Hamas and Syria.

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