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Syrians make pilgrimage to Mecca for first time in 12 years

Damascus, May 29 (Prensa Latina) A first group of 270 Syrians traveled today on a direct flight from Damascus to Saudi Arabia to make the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, the Haj in Arabic.

According to the Ministry of Transport of Saudi Arabia, the National Aviation Company will operate at least five daily flights to transport the faithful to the holy Mecca.

It was explained that of the 17,500 Muslims, more than 10,000 will depart from Damascus International Airport. The rest of the passengers will use other airports from neighboring countries, especially, the Beirut Air Terminal.

The initiative is part of the normalization of relations between Damascus and Riyadh, the latter having appointed its first ambassador to Syria, a few days ago, after a break in ties since 2012.

Syria was readmitted to the Arab League in 2023 after being separated for over a decade.

Last year, 1.8 million Muslim pilgrims worldwide participated in the pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca.

The pilgrimage is one of the five pillars of Islam and Muslims should perform it at least once in a lifetime if they are physically and financially able to do so.

This year, this ritual is scheduled to begin on June 14th.