Cairo: An Egyptian delegation of film actors and directors this week visited the Syrian capital Damascus, triggering uproar at home.
The visitors included celebrated actors Elham Shahin and Farouq Al Feshawi as well as filmmakers Omar Abdul Aziz and Mohsen Fouda, who also heads the Egyptian Actors ‘Association.
The trip came days after forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Al Assad tightened their grip on outskirts on Damascus following a series of attacks on the opposition and evacuation deals there.
The visit has sparked an online stir with critics denouncing it as support for Al Assad, who is accused of atrocities against civilians in opposition areas in the country.
There was no official comment in Cairo.
Egypt has repeatedly called for a political solution to Syria’s conflict that is now in its seventh year.
The actors claimed the visit, the first of its kind to the war-ravaged country in six years, was aimed at showing solidarity with the Syrian people.
“Syria’s suffering is that of Egypt and the rest of the Arab nation,” actress Shahin said in Damascus.
“This is the message for which I came here to convey to the people of Syria,” she added in an Instagram post. “Long live dear Syria and Egypt, the mother of the world!”
Shahin appeared on Wednesday at the Damascus Opera House where she was honoured on the Syrian Art Day.
The visitors also met several Syrian government officials including Minister of Tourism Beshr Al Yaziji. They also visited the Syrian parliament.
Online pictures showed the Egyptian artistes touring government-controlled Damascus.