Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdullah Bou Habib recently discussed the details of his visit to Syria and the key topics he addressed during his meetings with Assad regime officials. In an interview with al-Jadeed TV, Bou Habib described his visit to Syria as “brotherly and sincere.” He emphasized that the trip had been scheduled a month in advance and was not related to recent regional developments.
During the discussions with regime officials, the Lebanese minister highlighted several important issues. Firstly, he emphasized the matter of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, as well as the situation of Syrian detainees in Lebanese prisons. Both sides reached an agreement to establish joint committees, including military committees responsible for border security and security committees for the exchange of information. Additionally, they decided to create judicial committees to address the issue of “Syrian convicts” serving sentences in Lebanese prisons for criminal offences.
The Lebanese delegation also proposed that Syrian prisoners complete their sentences in Syria due to overcrowding in Lebanese prisons, and Syrian regime officials promised to study this proposal. They also discussed addressing the border gaps used for smuggling displaced individuals.
Minister Bou Habib mentioned that they discussed the situation of defectors from Assad’s forces, and the Syrian side committed to resolving their issues before their return to Syria, whether they are in Lebanon or Jordan. Furthermore, regime officials requested the UNHCR to register new births at the Syrian embassy.
Lebanese Industry Minister George Bouchikian stated that Bou Habib’s visit aimed at establishing a mechanism for the legal, organized, and scheduled return of displaced Syrians. He noted that communication channels with Syria have opened, and there is Lebanese consensus on the need to address this issue. There are efforts, supported by the UNHCR, to establish a camp for displaced Syrians along the Lebanese-Syrian border, which would provide shelter for internally displaced people from southern Lebanon in the event of a spillover from the Gaza conflict in the south.
Lebanese Minister of Social Affairs, Hector Hajjar, confirmed the existence of an initiative to establish a “precautionary” camp for Syrian refugees at the border to provide shelter in emergencies. He also stated that there is a decision not to expand existing refugee camps or create new ones.
According to UNHCR data, Lebanon is home to approximately 915,000 registered displaced Syrians, with the largest concentration in the Bekaa region at 37%. In recent months, Lebanese officials have increased their calls for coordination with the Assad regime regarding the return of Syrian refugees.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.