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Bahrain says 'work continues' at its embassy in Syria after UAE reopens mission

Moves mark a shift among Gulf countries to improve relations with Damascus, which has regained control over much of the country
Bahrain's foreign minister tweeted that the kingdom had not cut diplomatic ties with Syria (Reuters)

Bahrain has announced that "work is continuing" at its embassy in Damascus, just hours after the United Arab Emirates reopened its mission in the Syrian capital.

Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa tweeted on Friday that the kingdom had not broken off diplomatic ties with Syria "despite difficult circumstances", a reference to Syria's nearly eight-year-old civil war.

"We stand with Syria in protecting its sovereignty and its territory from any violation," he wrote. "And we stand with Syria in restoring stability to the country and achieving security and prosperity for our brothers, the Syrian people".

The re-openings will be a diplomatic boost for President Bashar al-Assad from two Arab states that once supported his opponents and part of a shift among countries to improve relations with Damascus with much of the country's territory back in government control.

Last week, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir visited Damascus, the first visit by the leader of an Arab League state since Syria was expelled from the 22-member body in 2011.

Diplomatic sources told the Guardian this week that there in an increasing consensus among the League's members that Syria should be readmitted.

Flights to resume

Bahrain and the UAE closed their embassies in Damascus after the outbreak of the Syrian revolution, which began in 2011 and turned into a civil war.

Eight years later, more than half a million people are thought to have been killed in fighting.

In a statement released on Friday, Bahrain's foreign ministry said that Syria's embassy in Manama is operational and flights between the two countries will resume soon.

It added that Bahrain "affirms [its] keenness on the continuity of its relations with the Syrian Arab Republic and stresses the significance of enhancing and activating the Arab role in order to maintain Syria's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity and avert the hazards of regional interference in its internal affairs and progress."

On Thursday, the UAE foreign ministry said that it had reopened its embassy in Syria, with a charge d'affaires assuming duties.

The Emirati foreign ministry said the move aimed to to curb risks of regional interference in "Arab, Syrian affairs" and said it was "keen to put relations back on their normal track" and "support the sovereignty and independence of Syria".

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