BEIRUT: A Saudi Airlines plane, the last to transport pilgrims for Hajj, carried 300 Syrian pilgrims to Jeddah after the kingdom facilitated their visa procedures in Beirut.
The airlines added one more flight to their schedule, which initially ended Monday, before the Eid al-Adha holiday commences Friday, in order to transport hundreds of Syrians from Rafik Hariri International Airport.
Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz ordered embassies in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey to grant visas for Syrians wishing to take part in the Muslim pilgrimage.
Syrians headed to Lebanon after Saudi Arabia closed its embassy in Damascus in March over political disputes. The Syrian government has accused the kingdom of providing arms and funds for “terrorist gangs,” the term it uses to describe rebels that have been fighting the regime since the uprising against President Bashar Assad broke out in March last year.
Wednesday’s plane transported 353 pilgrims including 300 Syrians, seven Lebanese and 20 children.
On board the Boeing 747, pilgrims voiced gratitude to Saudi Arabia for facilitating the visa process and price reduction for tickets to the country, and expressed hope for peace in Lebanon and Syria.