Assad to Meshal: Syria Stands by Hamas

Syrian president, Hamas chief Meshal meet, discuss reconciling rift within the Palestinian people.

Syrian President Bashar Assad on Saturday told Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshal that Damascus stands by Hamas and will do everything in its power to help Palestinians reclaim their rights and face challenges ahead, Channel 10 news reported.

The Syrian leader also called Israel's blockade of Gaza inhumane on Saturday, during a meeting in Damascus with Meshal, according to media reports.

Assad assailed Israel for what he described as its siege on Gaza and said it is causing great harm to the Palestinian people.

Assad called the current situation in Gaza "tragic," referring to the violence that erupted between pro-Gaza activists and Egyptian security when Egypt refused to allow part of an aid convoy into Gaza.

The Sana News Agency reported that the two leaders also discussed reconciliation between Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas.

Last week, Fatah turned down a reconciliation proposal by Hamas, Arab diplomatic sources said.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said senior Hamas officials had informed him that the group was willing to sign a reconciliation deal based on the Egyptian proposal presented to the two sides in October.

Abbas did not give further details, but Arab diplomatic sources said Hamas had planned for the agreement to be signed in Damascus.

The request by Hamas is an effort to undermine the status of Egypt, with whom Hamas has been sparring, while crediting Syria and indirectly Iran, both rivals of the Egyptians.