(MENAFN - Arab News) Syrian state-run television has bitterly criticized the leader of the Palestinian group Hamas for turning his back on President Bashar Assad, his one-time protector.
Syria welcomed Hamas in 1999 after Jordanian authorities expelled its leader in exile, Khaled Meshaal, accusing him of using the country for illicit activities.
Meshaal and Assad's relationship, built on enmity to Israel, fractured as Assad cracked down on opposition protests that grew into an armed uprising. Meshaal shut down Hamas' offices in Damascus in February and left the country.
"Syria embraced Meshaal like an orphan looking for shelter after other countries shut the door in his face," Syrian television said in a commentary.
"As long as you are in an emotional state regarding the suffering of the Syrian people, Meshaal, why did you not give the same due attention to the people of Palestine ... in occupied territories?" TV said.
Syria and Iran formed an "axis of resistance" with Lebanon's Hezbollah movement and Palestinian militant groups to oppose Israel.
But Hamas distanced itself from Assad last year as he cracked down on mainly Sunni protesters and rebels. Hamas's political leadership moved to Egypt.
Meshaal himself moved to Qatar.
The verbal attack appears to be a reaction to Meshaal's appearance at a conference of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's ruling party on Sunday.
Around half a million Palestinians live in Syria. Many have become disillusioned with Assad since fighting started in the Palestinian refugee districts of Yarmouk and Hajar Al-Aswad.