In Moscow: Senior Hamas official demands ceasefire among other conditions for release of Israeli captives

Ahram Online , Friday 27 Oct 2023

Moussa Abu Marzouk, a senior Hamas member on Friday, in a statement to Al-Arabiya TV, announced a set of conditions for the release of Israeli captives, among them a ceasefire, as he led a delegation that held talks with a top Iranian diplomat in Moscow.

Hamas deputy leader Moussa Abu Marzouk
Deputy head of Hamas political bureau Moussa Abu Marzouk. AP


“We demand (a response to our) conditions for the release of detainees, including a ceasefire,” Abu Marzouk, the deputy head of Hamas' political bureau, told Al-Arabiya.

Abu Marzouk met on Friday with Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Ali Bagheri Kani, Russian state news agency Tass said.

The Iranian diplomat told Abu Marzouk that Tehran’s “priority” in negotiations is “an immediate ceasefire, providing assistance to the people and lifting the repressive blockade of Gaza,” Tass reported.

The Israeli foreign ministry slammed Russia’s decision to invite Hamas representatives to Moscow as “an act of support for terrorism.”

“We welcome anyone who wants to fight alongside us," Abu Marzouk said, according to Al-Arabiya.

"We are counting on our Arab brethren to reach a ceasefire," he said.

Abu Marzouk also voiced his gratitude to Russia, saying they had protected Hamas twice at the UN Security Council with a veto.

He added  that “Russia and China represent a bloc that defends us.”

US warnings to Iran

Earlier, on Thursday, the US military revealed in a statement that it had struck two facilities in eastern Syria used by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and affiliated groups.

"The precision self-defense strikes are a response to a series of ongoing and mostly unsuccessful attacks against US personnel in Iraq and Syria by Iranian-backed militia groups that began on 17 October," Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in the statement.

This comes as US President Joe Biden on Thursday sent a message to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warning against strikes on US troops amid the Israeli war on Gaza.

"There was a direct message relayed. That's as far as I'm going to go," US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters, declining to say how it was delivered.

The day before, Biden told a press conference that he had warned Khamenei of a response if the attacks continued.

"My warning to the Ayatollah was that if they continue to move against those troops, we will respond, and he should be prepared. It has nothing to do with Israel," he said.

The Pentagon says US and allied forces in Iraq and Syria have been attacked at least 16 times this month by "Iranian-backed militia groups." as tensions rise in the Middle East.

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