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Syria: regime meets delegation of MEPs aiming to restore ties

August 23, 2021 at 12:46 pm

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in Damascus, Syria on 11 February 2016 [JOSEPH EID/AFP/Getty Images]

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad met with a delegation of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) led by French politician Thierry Mariani on Saturday. Speculation is mounting about the possibility of European states re-establishing ties with the regime in Damascus.

According to the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), the delegation discussed with Assad the ongoing situation in his country and the region as a whole. They apparently attempted to come up with ways to improve it and implement changes.

They also reportedly discussed the international sanctions on the regime – many of which are imposed by European states and the European Union (EU) – which limits its mobility and allegedly acts as a blockade on the areas of Syria still controlled by Damascus.

Assad iterated the need for dialogue at the intellectual, parliamentary, and cultural levels, particularly in efforts to persuade Western countries to re-establish relations with Syria under his regime. Most links were cut in 2011 and 2012 following the start of the ongoing conflict.

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A number of the parliamentarians in the delegation have visited Syria and met with Assad in previous years to build support for the regime, such as Mariani, Andréa Kotarac, and Hervé Juvin. All are right-wingers in France in opposition to President Emmanuel Macron and his policies on Syria.

Notably, the delegation made its visit on the 8th anniversary of the chemical weapons attack in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta, which killed over 1,400 men, women, and children. It is one of the many war crimes committed during the conflict. Although most of the evidence pointed the finger of blame at the Assad regime, Damascus and its ally Russia have continued to deny responsibility and blame opposition groups.

This is the latest of a number of delegations to Damascus over the years, raising concerns that some European states could accept efforts to restore ties with Assad after a decade of conflict, claiming that the territory under its control is “safe”.

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