Hamas officials to visit Syria for first time since 2012

The delegations will be headed by senior Hamas official, Khalil al-hayya, who heads the group's Bureau for Arab and Islamic Relations.

Palestinian Hamas militants take part in an anti-Israel rally in Gaza City May 22, 2021 (photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMMED SALEM)
Palestinian Hamas militants take part in an anti-Israel rally in Gaza City May 22, 2021
(photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMMED SALEM)

A Hamas delegation is expected to arrive in Syria on Wednesday in the first visit of its kind in 10 years, Hazem Qassem, a spokesperson for the Gaza-based group announced on Tuesday.

The delegation will be headed by Khalil al-Hayya, a senior Hamas official who heads the group’s Bureau for Arab and Islamic Relations, Qassem said.

The visit marks the resumption of relations between Hamas and Syria after the crisis that erupted between the two sides shortly after the beginning of the Syrian civil war.

The crisis was triggered by Hamas’s refusal to support the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad in the conflict with the opposition parties.

Several Hamas leaders left Syria for Qatar and the Syrian authorities closed the group’s offices in Damascus.

 A young boy carrying a Hamas flag walks past Palestinian women gathered as they wait for the funeral of a young Palestinian girl, outside the family's home in the Qalandiya Refugee camp in the West Bank, on December 18, 2015.  (credit: HADAS PARUSH/FLASH90) A young boy carrying a Hamas flag walks past Palestinian women gathered as they wait for the funeral of a young Palestinian girl, outside the family's home in the Qalandiya Refugee camp in the West Bank, on December 18, 2015. (credit: HADAS PARUSH/FLASH90)

Hamas to restore relations with Syria

Last month, Hamas announced its intention to restore its relations with Syria “to serve the interests of our people and their just causes, particularly the Palestinian causes, in light of the regional and international developments.”

Hamas stressed its support for the “unity of Syria’s people and territory, as well as its security and stability.” It also expressed appreciation for the role of the Syrian leadership and people in supporting the Palestinians.

The Hamas announcement, which has been criticized by Syrian opposition groups and Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated groups and figures in the Arab world, paved the way for reconciliation between the group and the Syrian regime.

In addition to the Hamas delegation, representatives of several other radical Palestinian factions, including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Palestinian Liberation Front are also scheduled to participate in the meetings with Syrian officials in Damascus.

Palestinian sources said that the faction representatives will also hold talks with Assad during their stay in the Syrian capital.

The sources said that Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah and Iran played a major role in brokering the reconciliation between Hamas and Syria. The Hamas-Syria rapprochement is seen in the context of Iran’s efforts to bolster the anti-Israel “axis of resistance.”