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Regime Official Retracts Statements on ‘Punishing’ Returning Syrian Refugees | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A view shows damaged buildings in Deir al-Zour, eastern Syria February 19, 2014. (Reuters)

Damascus – After a wave of condemnation and criticism over his threat to Syrian refugees seeking to return to their homeland, Syrian regime official Issam Zahreddine retracted his statements on Tuesday.

Zahreddine, who is commander of the republican guard in Deir al-Zour, said that he “obeys the orders” of regime head Bashar Assad.

He also said that the “noble” returning Syrians will be “welcomed back into the heart of the nation.”

His statements were made in a voice recording that was addressed to the “Syrian people, who have persevered, resisted and triumphed.”

Earlier this week, Zahreddine had threatened Syrian refugees seeking to return home, advising them against doing so.

“I urge you against coming back. Even if the state forgives you, we will not forget or forgive,” he said during a televised statement.

In his retraction, Zaherddine said that his statements were manipulated by those seeking to create instability.

Opposition figures meanwhile accuse the regime official of “being responsible for several massacres committed against civilians in several Syrian regions.”

Months ago, he had published on his personal media accounts photographs of himself standing next human corpses in Deir al-Zour, they added.

He had claimed that the bodies were of members of the ISIS terrorist group, added the opposition.