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Syria’s Assad to move to China as Beijing boosts its attain within the Center East

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DAMASCUS, Syria — Syria’s President Bashar Assad will head to China later this week in his first go to to Beijing because the begin of his nation’s 12-year battle throughout which China has been one in every of his primary backers, his workplace stated Tuesday.

China has been increasing its attain within the Center East after mediating a deal in March between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and it continues to assist Assad within the Syrian battle, which has killed half one million individuals and left giant elements of the nation in ruins.

China may play a serious position sooner or later in Syria’s reconstruction, which is anticipated to value tens of billions of {dollars}. Syria final yr joined China’s Belt and Highway Initiative by which Beijing expands its affect in growing areas by infrastructure initiatives.

Assad’s workplace stated the Syrian chief was invited by Chinese language President Xi JInping for a summit and can head Thursday to Beijing together with a high-ranking Syrian delegation.

Syria’s worsening financial disaster has led to protests in government-held elements of the nation, primarily within the southern province of Sweida. Syria blames the disaster on Western sanctions and U.S.-backed Kurdish-led fighters who management the nation’s largest oil fields within the east close to the border with Iraq.

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Diplomatic contacts between Syria and different Arab nations have intensified following the Feb. 6, earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria killing greater than 50,000 individuals, together with over 6,000 in Syria. Assad flew to Saudi Arabia in Could the place he attended the Arab League summit days after Syria’s membership was reinstated within the 22-member league.

Since Syria’s battle started in March 2011 with pro-democracy protests and later was a lethal civil struggle, Iran and Russia have helped Assad regain management of a lot of the nation.

China has used its veto energy on the U.N. eight occasions to cease resolutions in opposition to Assad’s authorities, the newest of which got here in July 2020. Chinese language authorities additionally carefully coordinate with Syrian safety companies on the presence of 1000’s of Chinese language fighters who’re primarily based in Syria principally within the final insurgent stronghold within the northwestern province of Idlib.

Since 2013, 1000’s of Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking Muslim minority from western China, have traveled to Syria to coach with the Uighur militant group Turkistan Islamic Social gathering and struggle alongside al-Qaida, taking part in key roles in a number of battles.

Assad’s final and solely go to to China was in 2004, a yr after the U.S.-led invasion of neighboring Iraq and at a time when Washington was placing strain on Syria.

Assad’s workplace stated that his spouse, Asma, will accompany him to China this week. Over the previous years, Assad has made a number of journeys overseas together with visits to Russia, Iran, United Arab Emirates and Oman.


Mroue reported from Beirut.

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