Naharnet

Change and Reform Says Army a 'Red Line', Urges Govt. Plan for Refugee Return

The Change and Reform parliamentary bloc underlined Tuesday that the Lebanese army is a “red line,” defending its latest measures in the border town of Arsal, while calling on the government to devise a plan for returning Syrian refugees to their country.

“For the one thousandth time we say: the Lebanese army is a red line,” said the bloc in a statement issued after its weekly meeting.

“We are all army and security forces in the fight against terrorism and the issue does not bear questioning, equivocation or overbidding and each political group must control its rhetoric,” the bloc added.

The country has witnessed controversy in recent days over an army raid on Syrian refugee encampments that resulted in the arrest of over 350 Syrians and the subsequent death of four detainees in army custody.

The army was also accused of abusing detainees after pictures emerged of dozens of shirtless men lying on the ground in rows, their hands tied behind their backs. The army chief has defended the measure by saying it was necessary to determine whether any of them was wearing a suicide vest, especially after five militants blew themselves up during the raids.

Turning to the issue of refugees, Change and Reform called on the Lebanese government to “devise a clear plan for the immediate and safe return of Syrian refugees” to their country.

“Thousands of Syrians carrying refugee cards are crossing the border and returning to Lebanon. Those who return to their country lose the refugee status and other countries would strip them of the refugee state once they cross its borders,” the bloc noted.

Lebanon is home to more than one million registered refugees fleeing the conflict in neighboring Syria, many of whom live in informal tented settlements.

The Syria refugee influx into Lebanon has strained the country's infrastructure, and has also sparked accusations that refugee camps are harboring militants from the war.


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