BEIRUT: Syria will continue to respond to sources of fire from across the border with Lebanon as a part of standard procedures, Syrian envoy Ali Abdel-Karim Ali said Saturday, a week after Lebanese officials urged Damascus to halt the shelling of border villages.
“[Gunmen on the border] represent a violation to both the sovereignty of Lebanon and Syria and what Syria and its military are doing is responding to sources of fire which can only be viewed as necessary to preserve Syria and its sovereignty,” he said after talks with Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour.
“This is a normal practice,” he added.
Mansour was tasked by Prime Minister Najib Mikati Sunday to protest to Syrian authorities over the recent shelling of northern border villages that killed a number of Lebanese nationals.
Speaking to reporters, the Syrian envoy denied he had been summoned by the foreign minister, saying he had requested the meeting with Mansour.
“The minister and I focused on what Syria’s borders and the domestic situation are exposed to in terms of violations by gunmen from different nationalities, whether those who take refuge in Lebanon or those with different nationalities,” he said.
The Syrian official said he had asked to meet Mansour as part of continued coordination between Damascus and Beirut and to put the “Lebanese state in the picture of what Syria, its borders, its Army are being exposed to, something that both the Lebanese judiciary and media have proven."
Ali added that Lebanon's border with Syria had witnessed a series of breaches "as a result of the amassing of gunmen or [increasing] number of places harboring them as well as extremists."
"Such repercussions worry Syria just as much as they worry Lebanon," the envoy said, adding that he submits reports on the situation on the border to the Foreign Ministry, which in turn refers them to the Lebanese government.
The reports, Ali said, detail “the magnitude of the breaches that Syria is being exposed to, forcing it to respond to sources of fire targeting the Syrian side, the Syrian border and Syrian citizens.”
Asked about the possibility of building refugee camps inside Syria, Ali said this issue had never been brought up during the meeting, adding that Damascus was aiming to provide a safe environment for its citizens and secure their return.
"When it comes to meeting the demands of its citizens, Syria is the most loyal as compared to other places because Syrian citizens are facing abuse, incitements and humiliation in some of the countries they have taken refuge in which are sisterly and neighboring states,” he said.
Since the uprising in Syria began against President Bashar Assad, a number of Lebanese have perished in north and east Lebanon as a result of fire from the Syrian side of the border.