Hamas official visits Syria for the first time since 2012
A senior Hamas official visited Syria today for the first time since the organization moved its political headquarters from Damascus in early 2012 due to the country's civil war.
Why it matters: The visit is part of an effort by the Palestinian militant and political organization, which controls the Gaza Strip, to mend its decade-old rift with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
Driving the news: Assad met today with Khalil al-Hayya, the head of Hamas’ Arab and Islamic relations office in Gaza, along with representatives of other Palestinian factions.
- After the meeting, al-Hayya stressed that both sides have decided to put the past behind them and that Assad expressed his commitment to support the Palestinian resistance.
Flashback: The Assad regime used to be one of Hamas' most powerful backers. The group's main headquarters outside of the occupied West Bank and Gaza was in Damascus, with hundreds of its militants posted there.
- But when the Syrian uprising broke out and most of the Arab world condemned Assad, Hamas didn't want to be affiliated with the regime.
The big picture: With Assad having largely succeeded in brutally suppressing the uprising, several Arab governments and other key regional actors have been reestablishing relations with his government.
- Since June, Hamas has conducted quiet talks with the Syrian government, mediated by Hezbollah. Last month, Hamas announced it would resume relations with the Syrian government.