Seventy Syrian refugees were detained by the Lebanese army on Saturday in al-Ozaai complex near the northern entrance to Sidon under the pretext of “violating the terms of legal residence.”
Several refugee camps harboring Syrians have been heavily raided by the Lebanese army – in collaboration with Hezbollah terrorists – of which saw hundreds of Syrian refugees detained, with the latest being the 70 Syrians, holding them responsible for the al-Qaa attacks.
On June 30, the Lebanese army arrested another 500 Syrian refugees
The crackdown came after ISIS suicide bombers struck the village of al-Qaa, along the Syrian border, killing five and wounding 28 others last month.
The series of al-Qaa bombings is still sparking a violent backlash which began by demanding the carrying of arms and the formation of “popular protection committees.” This premeditated campaign also included daily targeting of Syrian refugees.
There are about a thousand Syrian refugees living in the Al-Ozaai complex who fled Assad airstrikes.
The latest arrests come days after the burning of a Syrian refugee camp located at the crossroads of the al-Hoseina and Akar towns and the killing of a young Syrian refugee who then had his corpse thrown on one of the sub-roads in Zahle, a town in the middle of Lebanon.
Despite the absence of any evidence of the involvement of Syrian refugees in the al-Qaa bombings – as confirmed by Lebanese Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk – raid campaigns by the Lebanese army intensified. In addition, there has been a frightening increase in the racist and sectarian rhetoric by the Lebanese people against the Syrian refugees in the country, which lead to incidents of assault, threats of burning, killing and rape, and imposing new measures against the Syrian refugees by restricting their movement and threatening with deportation.
Nadim Houry, Middle East deputy director for Human Rights Watch, said he was concerned about a potentially harsh response to Monday’s attacks by Lebanon’s military. Syrian refugees have been caught in security forces’ wide dragnet following previous attacks, with some mistreated and tortured, he said.
“That is a concern and it comes amid a populist political discourse that is trying to present the refugees as the source of all ill,” he added. “It’s not about whether the army should be doing anything, of course they should do something to protect the people. It’s how they go about doing it, and are they being effective.”