Iran warns Hamas against leaving Syria

Dec. 5, 2011 at 6:27 AM

DAMASCUS, Syria, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- Iran has threatened to cut off funds and arms to Hamas if its officials vacate their Damascus headquarters and leave Syria, Palestinian sources told Haaretz.

Hamas officials involved in raising funds for the organization's military wing and some members of the political leadership have already left Syria with their families for Gaza, Lebanon, Sudan and Qatar, the sources said.

The sources told Haaretz "second- and third-ranking" Hamas activists are leaving but senior leaders such as Khaled Masha'al will remain in the Syrian capital.

Salah al-Arouri, a senior Hamas official, told the newspaper the organization had yet to make a decision on the matter. He said one or two families may have left but that top officials remained at the headquarters.

"The organization's top officials are here in Damascus; our relations with the state and Syrian people are excellent … we have no intention of interfering in Syria's internal affairs," he told the daily newspaper.

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