Direct flights resume for Syria Haj pilgrims after 12-year halt

May 29, 2024
Pilgrims arrive at King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah, ahead of the Haj pilgrimage in Mecca, on May 10, 2024. — AFP

DAMASCUS: Direct flights from Syria to Saudi Arabia for pilgrims taking part in the annual Haj resumed on Tuesday, ending 12 years of isolation since the civil war began, a Syrian official told AFP.


The move follows a slow rapprochement between the two governments that saw diplomatic relations restored last year.

A flight carrying 270 Syrian pilgrims left Damascus for Jeddah with more flights expected in the coming days, transport ministry official Suleiman Khalil said.

It was a first after “all (passenger) flights between the two countries were halted in 2012,” Khalil said.

“This decision only applies to the Haj period,” he said. “We are studying the reopening of a direct air route.”

In May 2023, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad attended his first Arab summit in 13 years in Saudi Arabia, mending ties with Riyadh and allowing the country´s return to the Arab fold.