Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is to visit China this week, his office said Tuesday, his first trip to the allied country since before civil war broke out in Syria more than 12 years ago.

"In response to an official invitation" from Chinese President Xi Jinping, Assad and his wife "will visit China starting Thursday", the presidency said in a statement.

"The visit includes a number of meetings and events" in Beijing and Hangzhou, the statement said, adding that the president would be accompanied by "a political and economic delegation".

China will be the third non-Arab country Assad has visited since war broke out in Syria in 2011.

Beijing has provided Damascus with international support, particularly at the UN Security Council, where it has repeatedly abstained from resolutions against Damascus.

Officials from both countries have also visited over the years.

The announcement comes six months after a surprise China-brokered deal saw longtime regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran agree to restore diplomatic relations and reopen their respective embassies.

The move sparked a flurry of diplomacy in the Middle East, where Arab outreach to Assad, an Iran ally, had already gained momentum after a deadly February 6 earthquake struck Syria and Turkey.

Following the deal, Riyadh championed the return of Syria to the Arab fold at a summit in Saudi Arabia in May, ending more than a decade of Damascus's regional isolation.