The German newspaper Die Welt said in a report published on Tuesday that a delegation including federal (within the scope of the country’s 16 states) and local politicians from the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party were currently visiting Damascus, despite receiving a warning from the Foreign Ministry about this visit.
The newspaper reported that a member of parliament from the North Rhine-Westphalia state, Christian Blex, published on his social media pages images of himself and members of the delegation in Damascus, including images of a meeting between Blex and the regime mufti, Ahmed Badr Eddin Hassoun, appearing before a picture of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Blex wrote, commenting on the picture: “With the mufti Ahmed Badr Eddin Hassoun. During the meeting the mufti stressed the importance of dividing between religion and politics, and called on Syrians in Germany to come back to Syria.”
The German MP asked: “Can the mufti send this invitation from Berlin?”
He added: “Ms [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel: Why not invite him to Berlin?”
The politicians justified their visit to Damascus in a press statement published by Die Welt in which they said: “We are here to see the humanitarian situation and reconstruction in the liberated areas.” These areas, for the regime, are those which its forces have recaptured from the Syrian opposition.
The statement continued: “This visit is necessary because we are not able to depend on media coverage to evaluate the situation in Syria.”
The newspaper also said that with this visit the AfD politicians wanted to say that it was possible for Syrian refugees, estimated to number in the hundreds of thousands in Germany, to return to their country.
The statement did not note the length of the visit, but Die Welt said that it began on Monday and would last until the end of the week.
The AfD party has repeatedly called for the return of hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees to their country, claiming that the situation had stabilized there, while the German government insists Syria is still witnessing a war threatening the lives of these refugees.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.