A Russian initiative aiming to help Syrian refugees return from Lebanon and other states back to their homeland is “mere empty talk,” Saudi al-Hayat daily reported on Thursday.
Quoting a senior French source following up closely on the situation in Lebanon, the daily said: “The Russian initiative is empty talk. France believes its normal for the refugees to return home but they can’t go back by force, or under threat of torture or compulsory military service.”
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Syrian President Bashar Assad “does not want them to return. The so-called Russian initiative is only words to make believe that the conflict in Syria has been brought to an end,” he said, describing the move as “demagogic policy.”
France has told everyone that the return of refugees from Lebanon and other states “is necessary, the sooner the better,” said the source, but for that to happen “Assad should first guarantee that there would be no torture, he should abolish compulsory military service for 25 years for all youth aged between 15 and 45, and give guarantees that private property would be returned to its owners.”
However, the source said “but there is no initial indication of such behavior from Assad towards refugees, who will not return without guarantees that they will not be in Assad's prisons,” he added.
In 2018, Syria's ally Russia has put forward plans to the United States to cooperate for the safe return of refugees to Syria.
According to a Russian defence ministry official, Moscow has proposed the establishment of working groups in Lebanon and Jordan, to where many refugees have fled.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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