A delegation of three French Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) was received by Syria’s President Bashar Al-Assad yesterday, as they embarked on an official visit.

The three MEPs, Thierry Mariani, Virginie Joron and Nicolas Bay, all belong to the far-right National Rally Party – formerly Front National. They met with Al-Assad yesterday and discussed the ongoing conflict in Syria, the recent victories and advancements that regime forces have made in the north-western Idlib province, and Turkey’s involvement in the conflict and its support for opposition groups. European sanctions and policies against Syria and its allies in the region were also discussed.

The regime’s ongoing land and air assault on Idlib province in the north-west of the country, which is the last major stronghold of the opposition groups, was a prominent topic which was discussed particularly following the recent gains that the regime forces and its Russian allies have made in the south of the province.

Earlier in the week, Mariani posted on Twitter that he would leave for Syria on Tuesday along with his fellow MEPs, stating that they have “numerous meetings planned with political, religious, humanitarian and cultural” figures in the country, which he said are “fighting Islamist terrorists successfully.”

These MEPs are among numerous right-wing European figures to have visited Syria, hosted by the regime throughout the conflict, with Mariani himself having conducted five visits to the country throughout the eight years that the conflict has raged. Their opposition to what they call “Islamic terrorism”, which is what they accuse all of the opposition groups of participating in, is a key component to their support for the Assad regime.

The visit by such figures is in direct contradiction and defiance to the measures taken against the Syrian regime and its affiliates by the European Union (EU), which imposed sanctions on them due to their war crimes and human rights violations. It also reveals the rampant opposition to the EU’s measures and bases of support for Assad within the European community, as well as representing the increasing trend to restore relations with the regime within both the Europe and the Middle East.

The MEPs will remain in Syria until Sunday. – Middle East Monitor