Syrian state media criticize leader of Palestinian Hamas group for turning his back on Assad

BEIRUT - Syria's state-run media have criticized the leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas — once a staunch ally of the Damascus regime — for turning his back on President Bashar Assad.

Syrian TV in a late Monday broadcast described Hamas' leader Khaled Mashaal as "ungrateful and traitorous."

Mashaal used to be based in Damascus but now spends most of his time in Qatar, which backs Syrian rebels battling Assad's troops.

Relations between Assad's regime and Hamas have been disintegrating over since Syria's uprising erupted over 18 months ago. Hamas at first took a neutral stance, but then in February, the group praised Syrians for "moving toward democracy and reform."

Most Hamas leaders have since left Syria to settle in Egypt, where their allies in the Muslim Brotherhood are in power.