politburo chief Khaled Mashaal has left the movement's base in Damascus, a diplomatic source and Syrian intelligence sources said Saturday.
“The situation there does not allow the leadership to be present,” an official Hamas source in Gaza told the New York Times. “There are no more Hamas leaders in Damascus.” He said the movement leaders had left the Syrian capital for security reasons.
According to the report, Mashaal's family moved to Amman about a week ago.
The sources added that last month, Mashaal had spent only five days in Syria.
The rest of the time he was in Qatar, Turkey and Egypt.
He added that the movement's offices in Damascus remained open, and that Hamas had yet to make a decision on whether to shut them down completely.
London-based Arabic-language newspaper al-Hayat reported Friday that senior Hamas members were pressuring the politburo chief not to retire as he had planned. Mashaal, the report said, met in Cairo with a delegation of senior members of the organization's military wing, led by the group's leader Ahmed Jabari.
The military wing members expressed their objection to Mashaal's retirement plan, stressing the need that he hold on to his position. They said they were speaking on behalf of many senior organization members in Gaza, the West Bank and abroad.
You can contact Elior Levy, Ynet's Palestinian Affairs Correspondent, at: firstname.lastname@example.org