Sun. Jun 4th, 2023

DAMASCUS/ATMEH, Syria (Reuters) – As some Syrians welcomed President Bashar al-Assad’s return to the Arab League on Friday, others expressed dismay that Arab states had welcomed again a frontrunner they blame for loss of life and destruction throughout 12 years of brutal civil battle.

The diverging views mirror deep splits in a nation shattered by the battle that has killed greater than 350,000 folks, with swathes of territory nonetheless held by rebels against Assad at the same time as Arab states carry him in from the chilly.

“I’m comfortable to see such conferences restarting between Arab leaders, and I hope they are going to be helpful for the Arab world, and for Syria particularly,” stated Naim Ibrahim, talking in Damascus, Assad’s seat of energy.

However within the rebel-held north, a refuge for Syrians who fled Assad’s rule from throughout Syria, Abu Ahmad Maasaran stated Arab states had welcomed again a “terrorist” who had used every kind of weapons to destroy properties and drive folks to flee.

“What sort of Arab international locations put their fingers in his? His hand is soiled, how do you soiled your fingers?” he stated, talking at a camp for displaced Syrians within the northwestern city of Atmeh close to the Turkish border.

Arab states together with Saudi Arabia – the host of Friday’s summit – as soon as backed rebels preventing Assad however have steadily modified coverage in the direction of the nation, the place the federal government beat again rebels with hearth energy from Russia and Iran.

Although the primary frontlines have been largely frozen for years, humanitarian wants are at a report excessive, with 14.6 million in want of assist final yr, earlier than the size of the disaster was exacerbated by an earthquake in February.

In Damascus, college scholar Wael Hmeideh stated he hoped Syria’s return to the Arab League could be good for the nation.

“We hope the return of Syria to the Arab league, or the return of Arabs to Syria, performs a task to resolve the disaster and battle within the nation, and finish the Syrian battle,” he stated.

However Mustafa Abu Khaled, talking on the camp for displaced folks in Atmeh, stated Arab states had invited Assad to sit down with them after his regime had “killed one million kids, one million fathers, one million younger folks”.

“Let him launch our prisoners and return us to our properties earlier than they consider returning (Assad to the Arab League) and reconcile with him,” he stated.

(Reporting by Reuters TV in Damascus and Khalil Ashawi in northwest Syria; Writing by Tom Perry; Modifying by Nick Macfie)

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