A Syrian Minister has invited Syrian refugees in Lebanon back to their home country, claiming that they can safely return and will be provided with accommodation.
During a meeting in the Syrian capital, Damascus, with Lebanon's caretaker Minister of the Displaced, Issam Charafeddine, the Syrian Minister of Local Administration, Hussein Makhlouf, stated that "the doors are open for the return of Syrian refugees" who remain in neighbouring Lebanon.
Claiming that the refugees will be given safe passage upon their return and after their resettlement, Makhlouf added that the Syrian regime of Bashar Al-Assad is also ready to provide accommodation to those returnees whose homes were destroyed during the ongoing decade-long civil war in the country.
The invitation comes years after millions of Syrians fled their country to neighbouring states and towards Europe, following the Assad regime's brutal repression of peaceful protestors and the outbreak of the conflict, in which at least half a million have been killed and half of Syria's pre-war population of 23 million have been displaced.
The invitation also comes at a time when Lebanon is seeking to return Syrians back to their country, with Charafeddine telling the Associated Press last month that Beirut hopes to repatriate 15,000 Syrian refugees per month in the near future.
Since Assad largely triumphed over the Syrian opposition groups – primarily due to military assistance from Russia and Iran – throughout the past few years, Damascus has been attempting to encourage refugees to return to the country and rebuild it under regime rule.
There are significant concerns that refugees who consider returning remain at serious risk of losing their liberties and even lives, however, it has been revealed numerous times over the years that returnees to territory under the Assad regime's control are routinely detained, disappeared, tortured and, sometimes, killed at the hands of regime authorities upon their return.