Beirut ‘de­tains Syr­i­ans’ in camp raids

Al­most eight years into Syria’s war, neigh­bour­ing Le­banon hosts around 1.5 mil­lion Syr­i­ans, many of whom live in the east of the tiny Mediter­ranean coun­try

The Gulf Today - - MIDDLE EAST -

BEIRUT: Le­banon’s army has de­tained around 400 Syr­i­ans in raids on refugee camps in the eastern Bekaa val­ley, mostly for over­stay­ing their res­i­dence per­mits, a mil­i­tary source said on Thurs­day.

Al­most eight years into Syria’s war, neigh­bour­ing Le­banon hosts around 1.5 mil­lion Syr­i­ans, many of whom live in the east of the tiny Mediter­ranean coun­try.

On Wed­nes­day, the army in the Ar­sal area de­tained “33 peo­ple with ar­rest war­rants, 56 peo­ple with­out iden­tity pa­pers, and 300 oth­ers over ex­pired doc­u­ments”, it said in a state­ment.

The mil­i­tary source said all were Syr­i­ans, and that those with no or outof-date doc­u­ments had been handed over to the se­cu­rity forces.

Those ar­rested had “com­mit­ted an ac­tion against the law”, they told AFP, with­out pro­vid­ing any fur­ther de­tails.

Le­banon’s army from time to time sweeps down on Syr­ian refugee camps, es­pe­cially those in the east of the coun­try.

Tens of thou­sands of Syr­i­ans live there, many from towns and vil­lages on the other side of the Syr­ian-le­banese bor­der.

Ar­sal mayor Basel al-ho­jeiri said that some of those who had been de­tained on Wed­nes­day were then re­leased overnight, com­plain­ing that the way in which the raids were car­ried out was “not right”.

“They come to ar­rest a cer­tain num­ber of wanted peo­ple, and end up de­tain­ing 400,” he said.

“They de­tain this huge num­ber to then de­ter­mine which ones are wanted among them, when it would be much bet­ter if they di­rectly ar­rested those they wanted with­out both­er­ing ev­ery­body else,” Ho­jeiri said.

Last year, the army de­tained dozens of Syr­i­ans in mass raids on camps in Ar­sal, spark­ing a con­tro­versy af­ter it an­nounced four of them had died in cus­tody.

Im­ages cir­cu­lated on so­cial me­dia showed dozens of bare-chested men ly­ing down on the ground un­der the scorch­ing sun with their hands tied.

Rights or­gan­i­sa­tions de­manded an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the cause of their deaths.

Many Syr­i­ans live in tough con­di­tions in Le­banon, and de­pend on in­ter­na­tional aid or­gan­i­sa­tions for their sur­vival. Since the start of the year, around 8,000 Syr­i­ans have gone home from Le­banon, ac­cord­ing to an AFP tally of ofi­cial ig­ures.

Le­banese se­cu­rity forces how­ever claim tens of thou­sands have taken part in these re­turns, which are co­or­di­nated be­tween Beirut and Da­m­as­cus.

They waive late ines for those whose res­i­dency pa­pers have ex­pired if they agree to re­turn to Syria.

The Syr­ian conlict has killed more than 360,000 peo­ple and forced mil­lions from their homes since it started with the bru­tal re­pres­sion of anti-gov­ern­ment protests in 2011.


A Syr­ian child runs next a mu­ral at Al-za­atari refugee camp, which is lo­cated near the Jor­da­nian city of Mafraq, close to the bor­der with Syria.

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