Syria and Saudi Arabia resume regular commercial flights as part of thaw in relations

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DAMASCUS (AP) — Regular flights between the Syrian capital Damascus and Saudi Arabia resumed on Wednesday for the first time in more than a decade as part of a thaw in relationships between the countries, Syrian state media reported.

Syria and Saudi Arabia severed ties in 2012 over President Bashar Assad’s brutal crackdown on anti-government protesters at the start of the civil war. But most Arab countries have restored diplomatic ties with Damascus, which re-admitted to the 22-member Arab League last year.

Syria’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Ayman Soussan, said the resumption of flights “is an additional step in the development process of relations between the two brotherly countries,” state news agency SANA reported.

In May, Syrian pilgrims traveled directly to Saudi Arabia for the annual Islamic hajj, but Syrian Airlines’ flight to Riyadh on Wednesday marked the return of regular commercial flights.

The 13-year civil war in Syria is now largely frozen, as the central government in Damascus has regained control of most of the area, while much of the northwest remains controlled by a patchwork of opposition groups and the northeast by Kurdish forces.

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