U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Maura Connelly on Thursday held a meeting with Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun, during which she conveyed “the grave concern of the United States over recent assassination attempts in Lebanon” and said the U.S. was “deeply disturbed by the recent deportations of 14 Syrians.”
“The Ambassador and General Aoun discussed the political and security situation in Lebanon and the current situation in Syria,” said a statement issued by the U.S. Embassy after the talks.
“The Ambassador conveyed the grave concern of the United States over recent assassination attempts in Lebanon and urged full support for the investigations currently underway by the Lebanese security forces,” the statement added.
Addressing the issue of Lebanon’s deportation on Wednesday of 14 Syrian citizens to their strife-torn country, Connelly told Aoun that “the U.S. was deeply disturbed by the recent deportations of 14 Syrians.”
She stressed “the importance of protecting all Syrians, including dissenters and deserters, who have rejected violence, in keeping with Lebanon’s international humanitarian obligations.”
Lebanon’s General Directorate of General Security said that those deported were wanted for common law not political offences.
"These people were handed over to the Syrian authorities because they had problems with the judiciary and had committed crimes, and as far as we know they were not political activists," a General Security official said.
"If they were, we would not have deported them," he added.
Turning to the Syrian crisis and its repercussions on Lebanon, Connelly stressed that “the responsibility for the violence in Syrian and the violence that threatens to spill over from Syria fall squarely on the Assad regime.”
The ambassador hailed the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Internal Security Forces for “their efforts to maintain calm in Lebanon,” and supported the government’s decision to increase the Lebanese army’s presence along the border with Syria.
The Ambassador also praised the Lebanese people for “their generosity in hosting Syrian refugees” and noted “the ongoing efforts of the Lebanese government, working with international partners and organizations, to provide humanitarian assistance to those refugees.”
In another statement issued later on Thursday, Connelly expressed her “grave concern at the continued shelling of Lebanese territory, including today’s incident deep in Lebanese territory, by Syrian regime forces.”
“The U.S. expects the Syrian regime to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Lebanon,” Connelly added.
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