Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Miqdad (R C) and other cabinet members meet with an official Lebanese delegation including (L - front to back ) the General Security apparatus's chief, Abbas Ibrahim, Ministers of Finance Ghazi Wazni, of Foreign Affairs Zeina Akar, and of Energy and Water Raymond Ghajar, in the capital Damascus on September 4, 2021. AFP
A top Lebanese intelligence official said Wednesday the country would not deport six Syrians back to their war-torn homeland, after they were detained last month for smuggling themselves across the border.
The army reported on August 28 that it had arrested six Syrians for "entering Lebanon illegally" and had referred them to the General Security apparatus.
Activists have raised the alarm over their fate, especially after four of them were detained near the Syrian embassy.
"General Security will not deport the six Syrians and will work to regularise their legal status," the agency's chief official Abbas Ibrahim told AFP.
The six hail from Syria's southern province of Daraa, where regime forces have in recent weeks been pushing to retake every inch of the region from holdout rebels.
A brother of one of the detainees told rights group Amnesty International that he had received a call on August 26 to collect his passport at the embassy, then stopped responding to his messages after picking up the document.
Amnesty earlier Wednesday warned of "grave risks awaiting them in Syria" if the six were sent back.
Its statement came a day after it published a report in which it warned that "no part of Syria is safe to return to".
It said dozens of Syrians who had returned home from abroad had been subject to detention, enforced disappearance, torture or rape by Syrian intelligence forces, including children.
Lebanon, which is grappling with an economic crisis, says it hosts some 1.5 million Syrians, including more than 850,000 registered as refugees with the United Nations.
The Mediterranean country started repatriating Syrian refugees in May 2019 from its soil, in a move that has repeatedly been condemned by human rights groups.