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A GIRL holds an image of Syrian President Bashar Assad..(Photo by: REUTERS)
Syria says no to restoring ties with 'terrorist-supporting' Hamas
Hamas’s refusal to support the regime of Bashar Assad in the civil war that erupted in Syria in 2011 prompted the Syrians to cut their relations with the movement.
Syria is not interested in restoring their relations with Hamas despite the Palestinian movement’s readiness to bury the hatchet with Damascus.

According to recent reports, Iran and its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, have been mediating between Syria and Hamas in a bid to persuade the two sides to restore relations.

Hamas’s refusal to support the regime of Bashar Assad in the civil war that erupted in Syria in 2011 prompted the Syrians to cut their relations with the movement, forcing its senior leaders to leave the country. The Syrians have also accused Hamas of supporting anti-regime terrorist groups.

In response to the reports about a possible rapprochement between the two sides, the Syrian presidency earlier this week reposted statements by Assad accusing Hamas of supporting terrorists in Syria.

Assad’s statements were originally made in 2016, and their republication is seen as a sign that the Syrian regime remains opposed to ending the feud with Hamas.

“We used to support Hamas not because they are Muslim Brotherhood, but because they are part of the resistance” against Israel, Assad was quoting as saying. “In the end, it has been proven that once Muslim Brotherhood, always Muslim Brotherhood, no matter where they situate themselves.”

The official Syrian news agency also denied the reports about a possible rapprochement with Hamas, saying there was no change in the position of the Syrian regime “toward those who were ejected by the Syrian people since the beginning of the [civil] war.” The agency accused Hamas of supporting terrorists in Syria and colluding with Israeli “schemes.”

Responding to the Syrian charges, Hamas official Nayef Rajoub said that his movement would not restore its ties with Syria as long as Assad remains in power.

“The current Syrian regime no longer has any weight or value,” Rajoub said. “It would be a mistake to bet on this regime.”

However, some senior Hamas officials recently hinted that they were interested in ending the dispute with the Syrian regime. Talal Naji, a member of the PLO’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was quoted as saying that Hamas leaders have told him that they were now convinced that what happened in Syria was part of a “conspiracy” against Assad. The Hamas officials expressed their desire to restore relations with Syria, Naji said.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh recently told the Russian news agency Sputnik that his movement did not sever its ties with Syria.

“The Syrian people and regime have always supported the Palestinian people and resistance,” Haniyeh said. “All we sought in the past was to distance ourselves from internal problems in Syria. We hope that peace, security and stability will return to Syria.”

In another conciliatory statement, senior Hamas official Khalil al-Haya said last week that relations with Syria were important to both Hamas and the Palestinian people. “No one can deny Syria’s role, which has always won appreciation of the Palestinians,” he said.

The Hamas envoy to Iran, Khaled Qaddoumi, also sought to ease tensions with Syria.

“Syria has a special status among Palestinians,” he said in a television interview.
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