Lebanon: General Security Prepares Mechanism on Return of Syrian Refugees

Syrian refugees prepare to leave Lebanon toward Syrian territory through the Wadi Hamid crossing in Arsal on Oct. 26, 2022. (Getty Images/AFP)
Syrian refugees prepare to leave Lebanon toward Syrian territory through the Wadi Hamid crossing in Arsal on Oct. 26, 2022. (Getty Images/AFP)
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Lebanon: General Security Prepares Mechanism on Return of Syrian Refugees

Syrian refugees prepare to leave Lebanon toward Syrian territory through the Wadi Hamid crossing in Arsal on Oct. 26, 2022. (Getty Images/AFP)
Syrian refugees prepare to leave Lebanon toward Syrian territory through the Wadi Hamid crossing in Arsal on Oct. 26, 2022. (Getty Images/AFP)

Lebanon’s Acting Director General of General Security, Brigadier General Elias Baissari, has exerted efforts to adopt a mechanism for the return of Syrian refugees, sources told Asharq Al-Awsat on Saturday.

On Thursday, Baissari was assigned by caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati to follow up on the issue of returning the displaced Syrians to their country.

According to official data, as many as 540,000 Syrians voluntarily returned to Syria from Lebanon since 2017.

The security sources said that in 2017, Lebanon launched a campaign to deport Syrians who entered illegally.

They said the campaign was based on a decision taken by the Higher Defense Council to start deporting refugees who entered Lebanon illegally.

The sources also pointed out that the recent meeting of the ministerial committee concerned with refugee affairs gave security forces the green light for a broader effort to deport undocumented Syrian nationals.

“The situation is no longer bearable. Lebanon’s prisons no longer accommodate more detainees. Therefore, every Syrian who has no official documents allowing him to stay on Lebanese soil, will be immediately returned to Syria,” the sources confirmed.

In a related development, Lebanese caretaker Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib met Saturday with the Deputy Director General and Head of the Middle East and North Africa Department at the Swedish Foreign Ministry, Sophie Baker, requesting an official clarification regarding the statements circulated in videos on social media by Swedish citizen, Kamal al-Labwani, in which he calls on the displaced Syrians in Lebanon to violate Lebanese laws and to take up arms in the country.

The Lebanese Foreign Ministry said it continues to follow up on developments in the case “which impacts national security,” until it obtains the desired clarifications from the concerned authorities.

Meanwhile, the Parliament’s Administration and Justice Committee Chair, MP George Adwan, discussed Saturday with UN Special Coordinator in Lebanon Joanna Wronica the crisis of the Syrian refugees.

Adwan stressed “the need to immediately implement practical steps for their return to their country, and for the international community to cooperate with the Lebanese authorities and provide assistance to the refugees in their country to encourage them to return.”



US Military Targets Houthi Radar Sites in Yemen

In this photo provided by the Ministry of Defense (MoD), a Sea Viper missile is launched from HMS Diamond to shoot down a missile fired by the Iranian-backed Houthis from Yemen, Wednesday, April 24, 2024. (AP)
In this photo provided by the Ministry of Defense (MoD), a Sea Viper missile is launched from HMS Diamond to shoot down a missile fired by the Iranian-backed Houthis from Yemen, Wednesday, April 24, 2024. (AP)
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US Military Targets Houthi Radar Sites in Yemen

In this photo provided by the Ministry of Defense (MoD), a Sea Viper missile is launched from HMS Diamond to shoot down a missile fired by the Iranian-backed Houthis from Yemen, Wednesday, April 24, 2024. (AP)
In this photo provided by the Ministry of Defense (MoD), a Sea Viper missile is launched from HMS Diamond to shoot down a missile fired by the Iranian-backed Houthis from Yemen, Wednesday, April 24, 2024. (AP)

The United States military unleashed a wave of attacks targeting radar sites operated by Yemen's Houthi militants over their assaults on shipping in the crucial Red Sea corridor, authorities said Saturday, after one merchant sailor went missing following an earlier Houthi strike on a ship.
The attacks come as the US Navy faces the most intense combat it has seen since World War II in trying to counter the Houthi campaign — attacks the militants say are meant to halt the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip.
However, the Iranian-backed group assaults often see the Houthis target ships and sailors who have nothing to do with the war while traffic remains halved through a corridor vital for cargo and energy shipments between Asia, Europe and the Mideast.
US strikes destroyed seven radars within Houthi-controlled territory, the military's Central Command said. It did not elaborate on how the sites were destroyed and did not immediately respond to questions from The Associated Press.
“These radars allow the Houthis to target maritime vessels and endanger commercial shipping,” Central Command said in a statement.
The US separately destroyed two bomb-laden drone boats in the Red Sea, as well as a drone launched by the Houthis over the waterway, it said.
The Houthis, who have held Yemen's capital, Sanaa, since 2014, did not acknowledge the strikes, nor any military losses. That's been typical since the US began launching airstrikes targeting the group.
Meanwhile, Central Command said one commercial sailor from the Liberian-flagged, Greek-owned bulk cargo carrier Tutor remained missing after an attack Wednesday by the Houthis that used a bomb-carrying drone boat to strike the vessel.
“The crew abandoned ship and were rescued by USS Philippine Sea and partner forces,” Central Command said. The “Tutor remains in the Red Sea and is slowly taking on water.”
The Houthis have launched more than 50 attacks on shipping, killed three sailors, seized one vessel and sunk another since November, according to the US Maritime Administration.
The war in the Gaza Strip has killed more than 37,000 Palestinians there, according to Gaza health officials, while hundreds of others have been killed in Israeli operations in the West Bank. It began after Hamas-led militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking around 250 hostage.
“The Houthis claim to be acting on behalf of Palestinians in Gaza and yet they are targeting and threatening the lives of third-country nationals who have nothing to do with the conflict in Gaza,” Central Command said. “The ongoing threat to international commerce caused by the Houthis in fact makes it harder to deliver badly needed assistance to the people of Yemen as well as Gaza.”