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Thursday, May 12, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Hamas denies reports that it plans to leave Syria for new venue

NICOSIA — Hamas said it would not leave its base in Syria despite reports the uprising has placed the organization under enormous pressure.


The Islamic movement, based in Damascus, said it had no plans to leave Syria amid the revolt against the regime of President Bashar Assad. Hamas said it was still operating in Damascus and was not looking for another haven.

Earlier, Arab media reports said the Iranian-supported Hamas had contacted several Middle East states regarding relocation. They said Egypt and Jordan denied Hamas requests, but Qatar agreed to host the Islamic insurgency group.

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"The stories spread by media are baseless," Hamas political bureau member Izzat Rashek said. "There is no change in the status of the movement in Damascus."

The Saudi-owned daily Al Hayat reported that Hamas plans to leave Syria for Qatar. On May 1, Al Hayat said Qatar would host the political leadership, including political bureau chief Khaled Masha'al, but not Hamas military commanders. During publication, Masha'al was meeting Egyptian leaders in Cairo.

As a result, the Hamas military command planned to relocate to the Gaza Strip, controlled by the movement since 2007. Al Hayat did not say whether the Palestinian Authority, whose ruling Fatah movement signed a reconciliation deal with Hamas, approved the plan.

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