UAE to reopen embassy in Damascus after seven years
An official at the Syrian information ministry invited journalists "to cover the reopening of the Emirati embassy in Damascus today".
Citing a source in the Syrian foreign ministry, Russian state media also said the UAE will officially open its mission in the country on Thursday afternoon.
Rumours of the Emirati embassy reopening have circulated in recent days as renovation work was spotted getting underway at the building.
The move is seen as another step in efforts to bring the regime of President Bashar al-Assad back into the Arab fold after years of diplomatic isolation.
Last month, reports emerged that Emirati officials had been meeting with the Syrian regime to restore its diplomatic mission.
With the exception of Oman, Gulf states closed their missions in Syria after the outbreak of the conflict in 2011, which began when the Baath regime, in power since 1963 and led by President Bashar al-Assad, responded with military force to peaceful protests demanding democratic reforms during the Arab Spring wave of uprisings. This triggered an armed rebellion fuelled by mass defections from the Syrian army.
According to independent monitors, hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed in the war, mostly by the regime and its powerful allies, and millions have been displaced both inside and outside of Syria.
The brutal tactics pursued mainly by the Assad regime, which have included the use of chemical weapons, sieges, mass executions and torture against civilians have led to war crimes investigations.
Some of the Gulf states have supported factions of the Syrian opposition during the seven-year conflict, providing arms to various rebel groups in an attempt to counter Iranian support for the Syrian regime.
Recent developments have indicated that the Gulf states are now reaching out to reconcile with the Assad regime.
Assad recently told a Kuwaiti newspaper that Syria has reached a "major understanding" with Arab states after years of hostility.