Hamas leader holds ‘warm’ meeting with Syria’s Assad

Hamas leaders met with Syrian President Bashar Assad in efforts to strengthen ties between Hamas and Syria in representation of Syrian factions.

The son of senior Hamas militant Mazen Fuqaha sits on the shoulders of Hamas Gaza Chief Yahya Al-Sinwar as Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (L) gestures during a memorial service for Fuqaha, in Gaza City March 27, 2017. (photo credit: REUTERS)
The son of senior Hamas militant Mazen Fuqaha sits on the shoulders of Hamas Gaza Chief Yahya Al-Sinwar as Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (L) gestures during a memorial service for Fuqaha, in Gaza City March 27, 2017.
(photo credit: REUTERS)

Senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya said on Wednesday that he and representatives of other Palestinian factions held a “historic” meeting in Damascus with Syrian President Bashar Assad and agreed to end the disagreement between his group and Syria.

The meeting, the first between Hamas officials and Assad in a decade, paves the way for the restoration of relations between the Gaza-based terror group and Syria.

The crisis between the two sides erupted shortly after the start of the Syrian civil war, when Hamas refused to openly support the Assad regime in its conflict with opposition groups. The Syrians accused Hamas of stabbing them in the back.

Hamas retracts any “mistaken action” that was taken in the past against Syria, Hayya said.

“The meeting [with Assad] signals the relaunching of joint Palestinian-Syrian action,” he told reporters in Damascus. “We are proud of Syria, which has supported and embraced the Palestinian people. Syria has provided for the Palestinians what no other country has provided.

Syrian President Bashar Assad speaks to the Syrian cabinet in Damascus on Tuesday. (SANA) (credit: SANA)Syrian President Bashar Assad speaks to the Syrian cabinet in Damascus on Tuesday. (SANA) (credit: SANA)

Describing their meeting as “warm,” Hayya said Assad had expressed his country’s determination to support the Palestinian “resistance.”

The meeting demonstrated that the “spirit of resistance” is being revived and is undefeatable, he said.

The “resistance” refers to the terror attacks launched by Hamas and other Palestinian groups against Israel.

The meeting also came as a “natural response to American and Zionist schemes targeting the Palestinian cause,” Hayya said.

What are the necessary next stops?

It's not clear at this stage whether the Syrians would allow Hamas leaders to return to Damascus or reopen the group’s offices there.

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah and Iran played a major role in brokering the Hamas-Syria reconciliation, Palestinian sources said.

In addition to Hamas, representatives of a number of Palestinian radical groups, including Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, attended the meeting with Assad.