Syrians angry as Hamas quietly announces 'normalisation' with brutal Assad regime

Syrians angry as Hamas quietly announces 'normalisation' with brutal Assad regime
Towards the end of a statement condemning Israeli airstrikes on Syria, Hamas quietly announced that it will 'restore relations' with the brutal Assad regime
3 min read
15 September, 2022
During the Syrian conflict, the regime also imposed a starvation siege on the Palestinian Yarmouk refugee camp [Getty]

Palestinian group Hamas announced on Thursday that it will "go ahead" with normalising ties with the brutal Syrian regime, led by dictator Bashar Al-Assad.

The group released a statement that opened with a message of support for the Syrian regime after recent Israeli attacks on airports in the country.

The Palestinian movement also thanked Syria for its "support" for the Palestinian people.

At the end of their six-point statement, the group declared it will normalise ties with the Assad regime.

"Hamas confirms that it goes ahead with its decision to restore ties with the Syrian Arab Republic to serve the interest of the Arab and Islamic Ummah, above all the Palestinian cause, especially in light of the escalating regional and international developments concerning the Palestinian cause", the last sentence of the statement said.

Analysts believe this point could have been buried beneath statements condemning Israeli airstrikes - including on Aleppo and Damascus airports - to downplay the controversial normalisation move.

The Assad regime is responsible for the vast majority of civilian deaths in the Syria war, with repeated bombings, sieges, and even gas attacks on opposition towns and villages.

It is also thought to have killed as many as 100,000 detainees since the start of the 2011 pro-democracy uprising.

Most Arab states boycotted the regime after the massacres of civilians, but some have established diplomatic, economic, and security ties with Damascus.

Hamas, which runs the besieged Gaza strip, thanked Syria "for supporting the Palestinian people and their just cause. We look forward to the day when Syria restores its leading position in the Arab and Islamic Ummah".

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"Hamas supports all sincere efforts aimed to achieve peace, stability, and prosperity in Syria", calling for an end to "Israeli malicious plans intended to divide the country and steal its resources." 

"We, at the national, Arab, and Islamic levels, are united in the face of the Israeli schemes against Syria."

Palestinian and Syrian activists condemned Hamas' latest move, calling them out for their "hypocrisy" after announcing the planned normalisation with the Assad regime, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people.

Hamas was based in Damascus until a year into the Syrian uprising in 2012, a move that was broadly seen as tacit support for the anti-regime movement.

It publicly endorsed the revolution after the regime's bloody suppression of Syria's uprising.

The Syrian opposition repeatedly called on Hamas to continue its boycott of the brutal Assad regime when signs of normalisation appeared in 2019.

It comes after video footage of a 2013 massacre in the Damascus suburb of Tadamon - where many Palestinian refugees displaced by Israel in 1948 had resettled - showed the regime cruelly executing at least 41 people, many of whom are believed to be Palestinians.

During the Syrian conflict, the regime also imposed a starvation siege on the Palestinian Yarmouk refugee camp, south of Damascus, which was controlled by opposition forces.

Hamas's refusal to back the Syrian regime and apparent sympathy with the 2011 uprising caused a rift not only with the Assad regime but also allies Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah group, which support Assad with men and equipment.

The conflict in Syria began in 2011 and has seen over 500,000 people killed, most of them in bombardments of civilian areas by the regime and its ally Russia.