Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Arsal Operation Takes Legal Path…Presidential Efforts to Solve Syrian Refugees Crisis | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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This file photo taken on June 14, 2013 shows tents at the Arsal refugee camp in the Lebanese Bekaa valley. AFP PHOTO / JOSEPH EID

Beirut- The “Arsal operation” took on Thursday a legal path at the Lebanese army command in response to calls made by human rights organizations for an independent investigation after fears that four Syrian nationals, who died while in custody, had been physically abused.

Meanwhile, there has been information that the Lebanese state might assign General Security Chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim to politically coordinate with the Syrian regime on the return of refugees to their country, a controversial issue which some anti-Syrian regime officials in Beirut already opposed by accusing “Hezbollah” of trying to save Bashar Assad.

The Asral operation controversy erupted on Wednesday when the army said four Syrian nationals, who had been arrested in the eastern border town, have died “after suffering from chronic health issues that were aggravated due to the climatic condition,” a position which prompted human rights organizations to demand a formal, transparent, and independent probe.

Troops rounded up hundreds of Syrians during the raids carried out in Arsal last week. Four of them died while in custody.

Security sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Lebanese army tasked its international humanitarian law office to follow up on the matter and prepare a report on the developments in Asral last week, when five suicide bombers blew themselves up in response to pre-emptive raids by the Lebanese army.

The sources said that a medical report issued by a forensic doctor who examined the bodies of the four Syrians, does not mention any abuse before their deaths.

“The army insists on continuing its battle against terrorism and the pre-emptive strikes despite all the campaigns against it,” the sources said.

Syrian opposition forces and some human rights organizations affirm that between 10 and 19 Syrians have died from abuse while in the custody of the Lebanese army.

In addition to the Arsal file, which caused a dispute in Lebanon concerning the issue of Syrian refugees, reports said that the Lebanese state is about to task Maj. Gen. Ibrahim to politically coordinate with the Syrian regime on their return to Syria.

“The issue of refugees is in the right direction, and there is no doubt that the Lebanese state would solve it, particularly after the return of many Syrians home,” a minister close to President Michel Aoun told Asharq Al-Awsat.

State Minister for Combating Corruption Nicolas Tueni said: “Coordination between the Syrian government and Lebanon is possible, and could be launched through the Lebanese General Security (agency) led by Abbas Ibrahim, who is responsible for protecting the Lebanese-Syrian border.”

However, presidential sources refused to confirm whether Aoun has tasked Ibarhim to carry out the mission, telling Asharq Al-Awsat: “No final decision has been taken in this regard.”

Meanwhile, sources close to the premiership confirmed that Prime Minister Saad Hariri refuses any coordination between his government and the Syrian regime. The sources said the matter could be solved in coordination with the UN.