HERMEL, Lebanon: At least 1,500 Syrian refugee families were transported back into Syria Thursday with the help of Syrian and Lebanese authorities, a security source told The Daily Star.
The families, who had taken refuge in the embattled Arsal, returned to the Syrian town of Qara, the source said.
Residents of Qara, mainly pro-regime, appealed to Lebanese and Syrian authorities to help return their families and relatives caught in the ongoing battles between the Lebanese Army and militants from Syria.
They were transported from Arsal via Ras al-Tiniyeh, Ras Baalbek and Jdeydeh, where they were able to cross the Masnaa border crossing into Syria.
The families had taken refuge in the Lebanese border town of Arsal to escape fighting in their home country.
Some families were transported to other towns including the Christian town of Maaloula and neighboring villages, the source said.
The Syrian refugees were seen on board a 100 Lebanese military vehicles driving through the international highway near Baalbek.
The return of some of the refugees was facilitated by Lebanon and a Syrian nun close to President Bashar Assad.
Sister Agnes told AFP that 1,700 men, women and children, mostly from the Qalamoun area just across the border from Arsal, were en route to the Masnaa crossing.
The nun, whose convent is in the Qalamoun region, said the return of the refugees had been complicated by the fact that some of them had failed to do their Syrian military service.
But she said the Syrian government had put "no obstacles" in the way of their return and Lebanon was also facilitating the return, although some of the refugees had entered the country illegally.
Another 3,000 refugees among the 47,000 sheltering in Arsal have also asked to leave to Syria, she said. -With AFP