Bahrain announced early on Friday that it is reopening its embassy in Syria’s capital Damascus.
The move follows a seven-year hiatus, the country’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on its website.
Noting the keenness of Bahrain on the continuation of relations with Syria, the ministry said the Syrian regime’s embassy in Bahrain’s capital of Manama will also be operational and flights between the two countries are set to resume.
Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry said the reopening of the embassy affirms the importance of continued relations with Syria. In a statement issued Friday, the ministry emphasised “the Arab role” in preserving Syria’s independence.
Bahrain was one of several regional Arab states that had backed opposition forces in the Syrian conflict.
The move by Bahrain to reopen its embassy came hours after the United Arab Emirates’ decision to reopen its embassy in Damascus.
Earlier this month, Sudanese President Omar al Bashir became the first Arab head of state to visit Damascus since the start of the Syrian conflict, flying into Damascus airport.
The border crossing between Syria and Jordan, another US-ally that backed the opposition forces, was reopened in October.
In October, Assad told a little-known Kuwaiti newspaper that Syria had reached a “major understanding” with Arab states after years of hostility.
He did not name the Arab countries in the interview, which was his first with a Gulf paper since the war erupted, but said Arab and Western delegations had begun visiting Syria to prepare for the reopening of diplomatic and other missions.
The interview came on the heels of a surprisingly warm meeting between the Syrian regime’s foreign minister and his Bahraini counterpart on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September. The meeting turned heads because it featured hugs between the two ministers.
TRT World’s Editor at large Ahmet Alioglu explains the latest developments
Syria was suspended from the Arab League in November 2011, as the death toll of a crackdown on anti-regime protesters was escalating. The conflict has now killed more than 360,000 people.
Gulf Arab states had also recalled their ambassadors and shuttered their embassies in Syria to isolate Assad in 2011.
Assad’s seat at the helm, which he inherited from his father in 2000, appeared to be hanging by a thread until Russia’s 2015 military intervention turned things around.
Regime forces and allied militia have since steadily regained significant ground. They now firmly control the Damascus region and several key trade routes in the country.
An Arab diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters last week he believed a majority wanted Syria to return to the League – with only three or four states expected to oppose this – but there had been no official proposal yet.
The past few days have seen a flurry of diplomatic activity that looks set to continue until the next summit of the Arab League, due in Tunis in March.
The activity has picked up pace after President Donald Trump announced last week the decision to withdraw US troops from Syria.