Returning refugees killed in Syria: Lebanese minister

By Wassim Seifeddine

BEIRUT (AA) – A Lebanese minister has accused Syrian regime forces of killing refugees who have returned to the war-torn country.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency on Monday, Minister of State for Refugee Affairs Mouin Merehbi said a Syrian family had been killed in Homs countryside in western Syria last week.

“Security officials in the regime forces had stormed the family’s house and killed the father, son and a nephew,” Merehbi said.

He said the murdered family had recently returned to Syria.

“Murders and liquidation are targeting those returning to regime-held areas, particularly villages and towns near Lebanese border,” he said.

The minister denied that the Lebanese authorities were forcing Syrian refugees to return to their country.

“They return voluntarily,” he said. “We did not force anyone to return.”

Last week, Lebanese authorities said that more than 87,000 Syrian refugees have returned to their country since July.

Beirut estimates the number of Syrian refugees still in the country at some 1.5 million, although the UN puts the number at less than a million.

Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in 2011 when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.

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