Lebanon deports 16 Syrians

(File/AFP)
Updated 24 May 2019
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Lebanon deports 16 Syrians

  • The 16 were all removed to Syria on April 26 after they arrived at Beirut airport, Human Rights Watch and four other groups said in a joint report
  • The latest deportees said they were "pressured" by General Security officers at the airport into signing documents stating that they were "voluntarily" returning to Syria

BEIRUT: Lebanon has "summarily deported" at least 16 Syrians, some of them registered refugees, by forcing them to sign "voluntary repatriation forms," human rights groups said on Friday.
Lebanon hosts nearly one million Syrian refugees - a significant burden for a country of four million people - and there has been mounting pressure for them to go home even though the UN says many areas remain unsafe to return to.
The 16 were all removed to Syria on April 26 after they arrived at Beirut airport, Human Rights Watch and four other groups said in a joint report.
Most of them were sent back to Lebanon after they were barred from entering Cyprus via Turkey, quashing their plans to seek asylum, it said.
At least five were registered with the United Nations refugee agency, it added.
"Lebanese authorities shouldn't deport anyone to Syria without first allowing them a fair opportunity to argue their case for protection," said HRW's acting Middle East director, Lama Fakih.
The report said around 30 Syrians have been deported from Beirut airport this year by Lebanon's General Security agency.
The latest deportees said they were "pressured" by General Security officers at the airport into signing documents stating that they were "voluntarily" returning to Syria.
"My biggest fears returning to Syria are that I would be conscripted and have to fight, or that I would be arrested because the regime has me on a wanted list or because of a case of mistaken identity," the report quoted one of the deportees as saying.
"If I wasn't scared of arrest, I wouldn't have left Syria in the first place."
General Security estimates that over 170,000 Syrian refugees returned home from Lebanon between December 2017 and March 2019.


US will maintain pressure campaign on Iran, says Pompeo

Updated 1 min 25 sec ago
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US will maintain pressure campaign on Iran, says Pompeo

  • Pompeo said US does not want conflict with Tehran to escalate

WASHINGTON: The US will maintain its pressure campaign on Iran and continue to deter aggression in the region, but does not want the conflict with Tehran to escalate, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday.

"We have been engaged in many messages, even this moment right here, communicating to Iran that we are there to deter aggression," Pompeo told reporters at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida.

"President Trump does not want war and we will continue to communicate that message while doing the things that are necessary to protect American interests in the region."

Fears of a confrontation between Iran and the US have mounted since Washington blamed Iran for last Thursday's attacks on two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz shipping lane.

In an interview with Time magazine released Tuesday, Trump said he was prepared to take military action to stop Tehran from having a nuclear bomb but left open whether he would sanction the use of force to protect Gulf oil supplies.

"Now we need to make sure that we continue to do that so that we ultimately we get the opportunity to convince Iran that it's not in their best interest to behave in this way."