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Syria Assad visits Oman in first post-earthquake trip

Bashar Al-Assad travelled to Oman on Monday

Syrian President, Bashar Al-Assad travelled to Oman on Monday, his office said, his first foreign trip since the deadly earthquake and a sign of easing isolation after nearly 12 years of civil war, Reuters reports.

Arab states have poured aid into Syria since the 6 February quake killed more than 5,900 people there, according to a tally of UN and Syrian government figures.

Donors have included Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which both supported rebels seeking to overthrow Assad in the early years of the Syrian conflict.

Assad met with Oman's ruling Sultan, Haitham bin Tariq, who said he looked forward to Syria's ties with all Arab countries returning to normal, according to a statement from the Syrian Presidency.

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Oman withdrew its Ambassador to Syria in 2012 as other Gulf States downgraded or shut missions there in response to the Damascus government's crackdown on anti-government protests at the start of the conflict.

But Muscat kept up contacts with Syria, despite pressure from the United States, and reinstated its Ambassador in 2020, the first Gulf state to do so.

Aid for Syria should not be politicised to push for the rehabilitation of Assad - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

Aid for Syria should not be politicised to push for the rehabilitation of Assad – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

Since then there have been signs of a shift in the Middle East towards reviving ties with Assad, a change accelerated by the earthquake.

Jordan's Foreign Minister made his first trip to Damascus last week, and on 7 February, Assad and Egypt's President Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi spoke by phone for the first time.

The UAE's Foreign Minister met Assad in Damascus a week ago, his third such visit since the beginning of the war.

Assad's previous visit to the UAE in March last year was his first trip to an Arab state since the outbreak of civil war in 2011.

He rarely left Syria during the war, travelling only to close allies Russia and Iran, whose military support helped Assad turn the tide of the conflict.

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