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Hamas, let down by the Gulf states, revisits ties with Syria

Hamas’ leaders have been exploring the restoration of ties with Syria in light of Gulf countries' engagement with the United States on a peace deal and therefore their increasing normalization of relations with Israel.
Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh attends a meeting with members of international media at his office in Gaza City June 20, 2019. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem - RC1BDF2E2180
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RAMALLAH, West Bank — Hamas leaders have recently been probing the restoration of ties with Syria, with Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah serving as mediators. According to the Gaza newspaper Al-Quds, Hamas political bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh told Turkish journalists during a July 20 conference call that he hopes relations with Damascus can be “repaired and rebuilt.” Haniyeh said that the resumption of ties with Syria has been under discussion across the movement’s institutions.

Hamas once had good relations with Syria, which beginning under President Hafez al-Assad and until 2012 had hosted the movement’s head and members of its political bureau, in effect offering them protection from Israeli attack. A rift emerged after the civil conflict erupted in Syria and the movement refused to side with the regime against its citizens. That decision led to Hamas' leaders, including the then-political bureau chief, Khaled Meshaal, departing Damascus in 2012 and Syrian security forces shuttering the movement’s offices.

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