Some Syrian refugees returning to pro-regime strongholds
A Syrian refugee family waits at a UNHCR registration center in Lebanon (Joseph Eid/AFP)
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Some 20 Syrian refugee families who settled in northeast Lebanon returned to their hometown of Flita Thursday, a week after the Syrian Army announced it regained control over the town and surrounding areas.
Most of the families have ties with the regime, which facilitated their safe return to their homes in border towns along Lebanon’s border, a security source told The Daily Star.
Backed by Hezbollah fighters, the Syrian army has launched an offensive in Qalamoun, the mountainous region bordering Lebanon, with aim of rooting out rebel forces and cutting their major supply of weapons and fighters.
Meanwhile, Lebanese officials held a meeting at the Grand Serail to discuss the overwhelming number of Syrian refugees in the country. The United Nations has registered over one million refugees, but the total number of displaced is thought to be higher.
Social Affairs MInister Rashid Derbas complained that the international community has not yet fulfilled its promises to help the country address the issue.
"Aid to the Syrian refugees is coming at the speed of a turtle while the influx is skyrocketing," Derbas told reporters before stepping into the meeting.
Lebanon has appealed on several occasions to Arab countries to host some of the refugees, saying the local infrastructure could not bear the increasing influx.
Maronite Cardinal Beshara Rai suggested Wednesday that Syrian refugees stay in Syria, echoing similar remarks by a number of government officials.
"Why not install some camps for them in Syrian territory where there is security? The area of Syria is 20 times greater than that of Lebanon," he said in Geneva.