Refugee families leave Lebanon back to Syria

The Daily Star

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Several Syrian refugee families Saturday departed Lebanon at dawn to the Asal al-Ward area in northeast of Damascus along the Syrian–Lebanese border, the Lebanese Army announced in a statement. The military said in a statement that the Syrian families left the makeshift camps in the northeastern border town of Arsal in a convoy of 30 civilian vehicles. They were accompanied by the Lebanese Army until the last military checkpoint on the outskirts of the area, The army said that the departure follows a "high interest of the families" to return to their homeland. Local media reported that the convoy comprised of 50 Syrian families. The families left through north and northeast Lebanon, the latter route going through the Lebanese border town of Tfail . Local Al-Jadeed TV reported that around 500 families are expected to return to Syria following "reconciliations in Qalamoun and the Damascus countryside, and the militants leaving to Idlib." In February, Hezbollah's media spokesperson told The Daily Star that the party is mediating the return of Syrian refugees from Arsal border area to their villages in the Qalamoun region in Syria in talks with Syrian opposition group Saraya Ahl al-Sham. MP Nawwar Saheli had told The Daily Star that "it won’t be formal until the Lebanese government contacts the Syrian government. For now, it’s indirectly between Hezbollah and opposition groups.” The Lebanese government estimates that around 1.5 million Syrian refugees live in unofficial camps around the country in deteriorating economic conditions – which Lebanon was already suffering prior to the refugee crisis.

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