Saudi Islamic affairs minister blames Syrians for country's destruction
The Saudi minister of Islamic affairs has appeared to blame Syrians for the destruction of the country by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Sheikh Abdel Latif Al Al-Sheikh made the comments during an event in the Saudi capital Riyadh last week, news website Arabi21 reported.
"Look what has happened to the people of the strong country of Syria... they have become homeless, poor, destitute, humiliated and now they wander across the whole world," Sheikh Abdel Latif said.
"This is because they allowed the promoters of sedition and evil and those exploiting their emotions to move the streets… look at what Syria has now become," he added.
The comments come amid rapid moves in the region to restore relations with the Assad regime.
Gulf states the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain announced late last month they reopened their Damascus embassies.
It is widely expected that Riyadh, which for years backed Syrian rebel groups, will also take measures to restore ties with Damascus.
Lebanon's foreign minister on Friday called for the Arab League to readmit Syria more than seven years after it suspended Damascus' membership.
The Arab League suspended Syria's seat in November 2011, as the death toll rose in the regime's brutal repression of anti-government protests.
But in recent years, Assad's forces have gained the military upper hand against rebels and jihadists, and efforts to bring his government back into the Arab fold appear underway.
In December, Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir made the first visit by any Arab leader to the Syrian capital since 2011.
Syria's war has killed more than 360,000 people and displaced millions since it started with peaceful anti-government protests.