Bashar Al-Assad
Bashar Al-Assad Reuters

The Arab League said Sunday it was not planning to discuss reinstating Syria's membership at a summit later this month, more than eight years after suspending it as the civil war began, AFP reports.

The pan-Arab bloc, which is set to hold its annual summit in Tunisia on March 31, froze Syria's membership in November 2011 over a bloody government crackdown on protesters.

In December, however, reports emerged that Gulf nations were moving to readmit Syria into the Arab League and that it could be readmitted some time in 2019.

Several of the bloc's other 21 members have recently renewed ties with the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad.

"The issue of Syria's return to the Arab League has yet to be listed on the agenda and has not been formally proposed," said the League's spokesman Mahmoud Afifi, according to AFP.

He noted that the "Syrian crisis" however still tops the agenda, along with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the situation in Yemen and Libya.

Syria's conflict flared in 2011 with anti-government demonstrations that sparked a brutal regime crackdown. It has since drawn in regional powers, killing 370,000 people and displacing millions.

The regime, backed by allies Russia and Iran, has since re-conquered much of the territory it had lost to rebels and jihadists, and now controls some two-thirds of the country.

The move to readmit Syria to the Arab League came despite Assad’s intimate ties to Iran, which is the Gulf states’ main regional rival, particularly that of Saudi Arabia.

Earlier this month, Syrian officials attended a meeting of Arab states in neighboring Jordan for the first time since the country's Arab League membership was suspended.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in December made the first visit of any Arab leader to the Syrian capital since 2011.

The same month, Egypt hosted Syria's national security chief and top Assad aide Ali Mamluk.

The UAE also reopened its Damascus embassy in a major sign of a diplomatic thaw.

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