Syria and Saudi Arabia have agreed to reopen their embassies after cutting diplomatic ties more than a decade ago, three sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Thursday.
The re-establishment of ties between Riyadh and Damascus would mark the most significant development yet in moves by Arab states to normalize ties with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, who was shunned by many Western and Arab states after Syria's civil war began in 2011.
The two governments were "preparing to reopen embassies after Eid al-Fitr," a Muslim holiday in the second half of April, a second regional source aligned with Damascus told Reuters.
The decision was the result of talks in Saudi Arabia with a senior Syrian intelligence official, according to one of the regional sources and a diplomat in the Gulf.
The Gulf diplomat said the high-ranking Syrian intelligence official "stayed for days" in Riyadh and an agreement was struck to reopen embassies "very soon."
The Saudi government's communication office, the kingdom's foreign ministry and the Syrian government did not respond to requests for comment.
The rapprochement between Syria and Saudi Arabia follows the deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran, who on March 10 announced a Chinese-brokered deal to restore ties, seven years after they were severed.
Earlier this week, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi received an invitation from Saudi Arabia's King Salman to visit the kingdom following the reconciliation deal.
The sudden breakthrough between Saudi Arabia and Syria, which has been supported by Iran throughout the civil war, could indicate how the deal between Tehran and Riyadh may play into other crises in the region.
The rapprochement between the two countries will likely have an effect on whether Syria returns to the Arab League.
The pan-Arab bloc froze Syria's membership in November 2011 over the bloody government crackdown on protesters.
In December of 2018, reports emerged that Gulf nations were moving to readmit Syria into the Arab League and that it could be readmitted some time in 2019. Three months later, however, the Arab League poured cold water on those reports and said it was not planning to discuss reinstating Syria's membership.
Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, said that increased engagement with Syria might pave the way for its return to the Arab League, though he stressed it was too early to discuss such a step.