Arab leaders, including Syria’s al-Assad, arrive in Jeddah for Arab League summit

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad arrived Thursday in Saudi Arabia to join an Arab League summit for the first time in more than a decade of war.

Al-Assad “arrived at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah to participate in… the Arab League summit” on Friday, Syrian state television reported.

Leaders from Oman, Mauritania, Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Lebanon, Palestine and Yemen also arrived in Jeddah to participate in the summit, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The 22-member bloc suspended Syria in November 2011 over al-Assad’s deadly crackdown on protests which spiraled into 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 al-Assad at the time.

But earlier this month, the pan-Arab body welcomed Damascus back, with host Saudi Arabia inviting al-Assad to Friday’s summit.

Syrian pro-government newspaper al-Watan said al-Assad will likely meet “a number of leaders in bilateral meetings” Thursday evening and Friday morning.

The last Arab League summit al-Assad attended was in 2010 in Libya.

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