Syr­i­ans fear­ing ret­ri­bu­tion pour into Le­banon

As­sad regime opens borders to U.N. envoys

The Washington Times Daily - - World - BY HUS­SEIN MALLA AND EL­IZ­A­BETH A. KENNEDY

QAA, LE­BANON | Syr­ian refugees flee­ing to neigh­bor­ing Le­banon on Mon­day said they feared they would be slaugh­tered in their homes as gov­ern­ment forces hunted down op­po­nents in a bru­tal of­fen­sive against the op­po­si­tion strong­hold of Homs.

Ac­tivists ac­cused the regime of try­ing to hide its crimes from the world as the mil­i­tary cracks down on an anti-gov­ern­ment up­ris­ing that has raged for nearly a year.

With world pres­sure at a peak in the boil­ing cri­sis, the Syr­ian regime agreed to ad­mit two prom­i­nent in­ter­na­tional emis­saries it pre­vi­ously had re­buffed — for­mer U.N. Sec­re­tary-gen­eral Kofi An­nan, the new spe­cial en­voy to Syria, and U.N. hu­man­i­tar­ian chief Va­lerie Amos.

Mr. An­nan goes to Da­m­as­cus on Satur­day, and Ms. Amos said she will ar­rive in the cap­i­tal on Wed­nes­day and leave on Fri­day.

Ms. Amos said the aim of the vis­its is “to urge all sides to al­low un­hin­dered ac­cess for hu­man­i­tar­ian re­lief work­ers so they can evac­u­ate the wounded and de­liver es­sen­tial sup­plies.”

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion added Syr­ian state tele­vi­sion and ra­dio to a U.S. sanc­tions list — part of an ef­fort to block Syr­ian gov­ern­ment as­sets within the U.S.

The Trea­sury Depart­ment’s sanc­tions chief, Adam Szu­bin, said the Syr­ian Gen­eral Or­ga­ni­za­tion of Ra­dio and TV has “served as an arm of the Syr­ian regime as it mounts in­creas­ingly bar­baric at­tacks on its own pop­u­la­tion and seeks both to mask and le­git­imize its vi­o­lence.”

He said any in­sti­tu­tions sup­port­ing Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad gov­ern­ment’s “ab­hor­rent be­hav­ior will be tar­geted and cut off from the in­ter­na­tional fi­nan­cial sys­tem.”

The U.N. refugee agency said Mon­day that as many as 2,000 Syr­i­ans had crossed into Le­banon over the last two days.

Lebanese se­cu­rity of­fi­cials say more than 10,000 Syr­i­ans are be­lieved to be in the coun­try. One of­fi­cial said as many as 3,000 are be­lieved to have crossed in re­cent days be­cause of vi­o­lence in Homs, though it is un­clear how many have re­turned to Syria.

The of­fi­cials spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity un­der gov­ern­ment pro­to­col.

In­side Le­banon, many Syr­i­ans fear agents from their own coun­try’s se­cu­rity ser­vices. Sto­ries have cir­cu­lated of kid­nap­pings and col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Lebanese and Syr­ian se­cu­rity forces. Syria con­trolled Le­banon for decades and Hezbol­lah, the party which now dom­i­nates Le­banon’s gov­ern­ment, is closely al­lied with Syria and Iran.

Turkey says it hosts more than 11,000 Syr­i­ans in camps along the bor­der with Syria, in­clud­ing more than 1,000 who crossed in the last month. About 100 have crossed in the last two days.

Jor­dan has more than 80,000 Syr­ian refugees, ac­cord­ing to the gov­ern­ment.


The United Na­tions is send­ing two envoys to Syria to press the case to al­low hu­man­i­tar­ian re­lief work­ers un­hin­dered ac­cess. These Syr­ian chil­dren fled with their fam­i­lies from Qusair, near Homs, to the Lebanese-syr­ian bor­der vil­lage of Qaa.

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