Omani foreign minister Yousuf Bin Alawi meets Syrian President Bashar Al Assad in Damascus on Monday Source: Omani Ministry of Foreign Affairs Image Credit:

Damascus: Syrian President Bashar Al Assad met with Oman’s top diplomat Yousuf Bin Alawi in Damascus on Monday, in a rare visit for a Gulf official since Syria’s conflict broke out, state media reported.

Official news agency SANA said Assad and Alawi discussed “the ideas proposed at the regional and international levels to help resolve the crisis in Syria”.

“The Syrian people... welcome the sultanate’s sincere efforts to help Syrians realise their aspirations in a way that preserves the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Al Assad said.

Bin Alawi, for his part, was quoted as saying Oman was eager to preserve Syria’s “unity and stability” and would continue its efforts to find a political solution to the conflict.

Diplomatic ties

Oman has not cut diplomatic or political ties with Damascus, unlike other Arab countries in the Gulf.

In August, Syria’s top diplomat Walid Muallem met with Bin Alawi in Muscat, in the foreign minister’s first visit to the Gulf since the brutal war began in 2011.

Meanwhile, an alliance of Free Syrian Army-related insurgent groups said on Monday it was sceptical about a Russian proposal to help rebels, and that Moscow must stop bombing rebels and civilians and withdraw its support for President Bashar Al Assad.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday the Russian air force, which has been bombing insurgents in Syria since September 30, would be ready to help the “patriotic” Syrian opposition.

“Their words are not like their actions. How can we talk to them while they are hitting us?” Essam Al Rayyes, spokesman for the Southern Front of the Free Syrian Army, said.

Rayyes added that there was no contact between the rebels and the Russians, clarifying an earlier remark to the BBC that the rebels had not turned down a Russian offer. “There is no offer, there is no communication,” Rayyes said.