In March and April, during the month of Ramadan and Eid holiday, the Lebanese military conducted a campaign of terror by raiding Syrian refugee camps and neighborhoods, abducting refugees, and handing them over to the Assad regime. In the past month, hundreds of refugees have been forcefully, and in many cases illegally, handed over to the security forces or militias of the Assad regime.
New dimensions of this campaign have emerged in the past few days. In addition to the raids, abductions, abuse, and torture at the hands of the Lebanese military, activists have revealed that the Lebanese army is extorting Syrian refugees in border villages like Baqiya. The victims are forced to pay hundreds of dollars, which are split between the Lebanese army and Assad loyalists who will hand the detainees over to the Assad regime in case of failed payment. Local sources report that the common amount is $200 for the army and $100 for the Assad agents.
Amnesty International has warned that Syrians face “torture and persecution” if they are returned to Assad-occupied areas and has urged Lebanon to comply with international laws protecting the rights and safety of refugees. Despite such warnings and pleas, the Lebanese military has continued its campaign against Syrians, even handing over refugees registered with the UNHCR to the Assad regime.
The Ministry of Political Affairs for the Liberated Syrian Territories has released a statement regarding the situation of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and recent developments related to their case, calling on the Lebanese government to comply with international laws and norms and immediately cease the unjust deportations. The statement also confirms the willingness and readiness of the leaders of the liberated territories to receive any deportees in lieu of risking their lives and safety by their illegal return to the criminal Assad regime.
Dr. Zaineddin, an economist and general coordinator in the Syrian Revolution, tweeted, “Before you force the displaced Syrians to return to Syria, expel the terrorist Lebanese Hezbollah militia that displaced them and occupied their homes and villages in Syria.”
One refugee, Ammar, told the press that in Syria, there is “no longer any hope,” expressing that he would “rather die” than return to Syria. This sentiment is shared by millions of refugees who, like Ammar, are prepared to risk death at sea or life in squalor rather than return to the oppression and tyranny of the Assad regime.