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UK deny it will reestablish relations with Syria regime

The UK has denied it will re-open its embassy in Damascus [Getty]

Date of publication: 8 January, 2019

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The UK has denied reports that it is renovating its embassy in Damascus to re-new diplomatic ties with the Syrian regime.
The UK has denied reports that it is renovating its embassy in Damascus and planning to return its ambassador to the Syrian capital, with a British special envoy insisting relations with Bashar al-Assad's regime will remain frozen.

A report in Russian state-funded outlet RT this week stated that British diplomats had visited the shuttered embassy building in the Syrian capital ahead of renovations, as the UAE and Bahrain prepare to re-open their diplomatic compounds in Damascus.

The Russian report - based on un-named sources - said that construction was due to the planned opening of the embassy at a later date - seven-years after the UK cut diplomatic relations with Syria due to the regime's brutal suppression of peaceful protests.

Since then, President Bashar al-Assad's forces have launched a brutal military campaign against opposition areas and rebel groups, winning back most of the country thanks to Russian air support and Iranian-backed militia troops.

At least half a million Syrians have lost their lives in the conflict. Most of the victims are believed to be civilians killed in regime air raids and shelling.

The British Special Representative for Syria, Martin Longden, said on Twitter that the story alleging that the UK was preparing to re-establish ties with Assad were fake.

"The Asad regime lost its legitimacy due to its atrocities against the Syrian people. We therefore closed the British Embassy in Damascus in 2012. We have no plans to reopen it. End of story."

Last week, UK Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt said that a British ambassador would not be heading for Damascus in the near future.

"I think we're a long way off that happening... There'll be many people in Syria who are bitterly disappointed that that has been the outcome," he said, referring to his belief that Assad had effectively won the war in Syria.

"But if that is the outcome, then there are going to be countries that want to re-establish diplomatic ties."

Despite saying that despite Assad would remain in power due to Russia's military support, the dictator still remained tainted as a "butcher".

Russian-linked media have pushed stories favourable to the Syrian regime throughout the war, including denying Assad's involvement in deadly chemical attacks which have been proven to be false.

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