Lebanese Army faces criticism for arresting Syrian refugees amid forced deportation concerns

BEIRUT — The Lebanese Army’s recent arrest of two Syrians has sparked controversy, as concerns mount over arbitrary detentions and the forced deportation of Syrian refugees. In two separate operations, the army detained these individuals under pretexts related to people smuggling and secret entry into Lebanon, without substantial evidence.

These detentions are part of an ongoing trend of Lebanese authorities targeting Syrian refugees for deportation. Critics argue that these actions are paving the way for forcibly deporting refugees and potentially handing them over to Syria’s security services, raising serious human rights concerns.

The Lebanese Army Command recently disclosed that its Intelligence Directorate stopped the efforts of 31 Syrians who were preparing to illegally smuggle people across the sea to Europe. These individuals were apprehended aboard a group of boats involved in the smuggling operation.

The army also conducted raids in the town of Chadra in the Akkar District. Nine individuals were arrested for aiding Syrians in moving illegally within Lebanon. Moreover, 60 Syrians were apprehended in the same town for entering Lebanon secretly.

These actions have attracted criticism from various quarters. Last July, Human Rights Watch sounded the alarm, asserting that the Lebanese Army had engaged in the arbitrary arrest and deportation of thousands of Syrian refugees, including children who were separated from their parents.

According to the organization’s data, since April 2023, the Lebanese Army has carried out over 100 raids, resulting in the arrests of 2,200 individuals. It has deported around 1,800 refugees to Syria. This situation has prompted intensified scrutiny over the country’s treatment of Syrian refugees and the implications for their safety and well-being.