Middle East

Refugees Begin Return to Syria from Lebanon Border Town

Hundreds of Syrian refugees began returning home from the Lebanese border town of Arsal on Thursday as part of a coordinated operation between authorities in Beirut and Damascus.

As fighting fronts in some parts of Syria have died down, Lebanese authorities have increased their demands for refugees to return to stabilized areas.

Arsal hosts some 36,000 displaced Syrians according to the United Nations refugee agency, many of them from Syrian villages just across the border.

Around 400 would return to their homes on Thursday in a first group, said Lebanon’s General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim who organized the returns.

Women and young children could be seen climbing into cars, tractors, and covered lorries in the dusty suburb of Wadi Hmeid just outside Arsal.

The vehicles were piled high with personal belongings: mattresses, plastic containers, and even furniture.

Security forces checked their identity papers to make sure they were on a prepared list of people authorized to leave, said an AFP photographer at the scene.

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