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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad wants to gain Sunni legitimacy by receiving Lebanese Sunni figures, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea said during an interview with An-Nahar newspaper published on Friday , in reference to the visits of former Prime Ministers Salim al-Hoss and Omar Karami to Damascus.

“This is an attempt to show that nothing unusual is happening in Syria, and after the Arab boycott of the Syrian regime, Assad is trying to gain some kind of Sunni legitimacy from Lebanon,” he told

Geagear also slammed the visit of the Syrian delegation to the Maronite Patriarchate.

“This visit is an attempt to drown Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rai in stances that are not his,” he added.

Geagea also said that although the Patriarch expressed some sympathy for the Syrian regime, “he for sure did not voice the statements that they are trying to attribute to him.”

Rai met on Wednesday with a delegation of Syrian religious figures headed by Damascus Mufti Adnan Afyouni.

Assad on Thursday met with former Lebanese PM Omar Karami and his son Youth and Sports Minister Faisal Karami and on Wednesday he met with former PM Salim el Hoss.

Religious-political tourism

Similarly Future bloc MP Nohad Al-Mashnouq decried Assad’s meetings with Lebanese Sunni figures and the visit of a Syrian delegation to the Maronite Patriarchate’s headquarters calling them “social folklore and religious-political tourism.”

“These visits and receptions do not change the situation. They do not solve the crisis in Lebanon, but incite it,” Mashnouq told An-Nahar newspaper.

Mashnouq added that these visits also do not change the situation in Syria, “where the revolution is continuing against Assad’s regime and is not affected by visits of Lebanese former officials.”

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