JEDDAH: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad arrived in Saudi Arabia Thursday, state media said, to join an Arab League summit for the first time in more than a decade of war. Assad “arrived at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah to participate in... the Arab League summit” on Friday, Syrian state television reported.
The visit marks Assad’s official return to the Arab fold after the body suspended Damascus in November 2011 over its bloody crackdown on protests, triggering a conflict that has killed more than 500,000 people and displaced millions. Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries either severed or downgraded ties with Assad at the time — with Riyadh openly championing his ouster during the conflict.
But earlier this month, the pan-Arab body welcomed Damascus back, with host Saudi Arabia inviting Assad to Friday’s summit despite objections from other Arab countries.