At the request of caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, a Lebanese ministerial delegation visited Syria on Wednesday to show solidarity with the Syrian regime after a deadly earthquake struck early Monday morning.
The Lebanese delegation met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during their visit, L'Orient-Le Jour's political correspondent reported.
"We met with President Assad for an hour. We explained to him that we were mandated by Najib Mikati to provide humanitarian support and to present our condolences," caretaker Minister of Social Affairs, Hector Hajjar, told L'Orient-Le Jour.
"We talked about the support, throughout history, of Syria to Lebanon and vice versa, notably when Lebanon welcomed Syrian refugees without conditions," Hajjar added.
According to the state-run National News Agency, the Lebanese delegation and Assad discussed the "decisions and measures taken by the caretaker cabinet to ensure aid" to Syria.
The ministers announced that Lebanon is ready to open its ports and airports to foreign aid that could be sent to "the Syrian state or any other party."
Assad thanked the Lebanese government for its support, reported the NNA.
In addition to Hajjar, the Lebanese delegation is comprised of caretaker Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdallah Bou Habib, caretaker Minister of Public Works, Ali Hamieh and caretaker Minister of Agriculture Abbas Hajj Hassan.
During the visit, the Lebanese officials also met with the Syrian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Faisal Mokdad, to whom they expressed "their solidarity with the Syrian people in this ordeal, with the means available to help in the rescue operations."
Lebanese rescue workers — consisting of members of the Civil Defense, Red Cross, and army soldiers — were dispatched to Turkey and Syria on Tuesday to assist local teams.
According to a provisional assessment, the earthquake killed over 11,000 people in Syria and Turkey.
Much of the area of Syria impacted by Monday's deadly earthquake includes opposition-held parts of northwestern Aleppo and Idlib governorates, which are not serviced by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC). There, a first response group known as the White Helmets has been leading search and rescue operations alongside other NGOs.
In Lebanon, shockwaves triggered widespread fear, but no casualties were reported. Several buildings were damaged.