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US urges Lebanon to protect Syrian opposition

US ambassador in Beirut calls on Lebanese government to protect members of Syria's opposition from being assassinated by Assad's regime

AFP , Wednesday 5 Oct 2011
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The US ambassador to Beirut has urged Lebanese authorities to protect members of Syria's opposition residing in the country, following reports some are being hunted down and sent back to Syria.

Maura Connelly made the appeal in a meeting on Tuesday with Defence Minister Fayez Ghosn.

"Ambassador Connelly emphasised the importance the United States places on the Lebanese Armed Forces' role in protecting members of the Syrian opposition residing in Lebanon, as one of Lebanon's international legal obligations," the embassy said in a statement.

A number of Syrian opposition members have sought refuge in Lebanon since the outbreak of the revolt against the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad in March. Defecting Syrian soldiers have also fled to Lebanon, crossing the porous border between the two countries.

Opposition figures are reportedly being sought out by the Lebanese army and sent back to Syria.

Lebanon's government is dominated by the militant group Hezbollah and its allies, which back the Assad regime.

Syria has traditionally held sway in Lebanese politics but was forced to pull its troops from the country in 2005 following a 29-year presence.

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