Russia invites Hamas, other Palestinian factions for talks

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Russia has invited Hamas and other Palestinian factions including Fatah to Moscow for talks on the Israel-Hamas war and other issues in the Middle East, an official said Friday.

Moscow, which for years tried to court good relations with all major players in the region, has grown increasingly critical of Israel and its Western backers amid the ongoing war in Gaza.

Russia has invited around a dozen Palestinian groups to Moscow for "inter-Palestinian" talks from February 29, the state-run TASS news agency reported, citing Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov.

"We invited all Palestinian representatives -- all political forces that have their positions in different countries, including Syria, Lebanon and other countries in the region," said Bogdanov, who is President Vladimir Putin's special envoy for the Middle East.

They include Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, alongside representatives of Fatah and the broader Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

The war in Gaza was triggered by Hamas' October 7 attack on Israel that allegedly resulted in the deaths of about 1,160 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

At least 28,775 people, mostly women and children, have been killed in Israel's retaliatory military offensive on Gaza, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.

Putin has called for a ceasefire and Moscow has repeatedly criticized Israel's conduct in the Gaza Strip since the October 7 attack.

The public statements, combined with Russia's partnerships with Iran and Hamas, have soured Russian-Israeli relations since the conflict broke out.