Hundreds of Syrian refugees have returned to their homeland from various areas in neighboring Lebanon after Syrian government forces and allied fighters from popular defense groups managed to liberate their hometowns from the clutches of Takfiri terrorist groups.
The return of refugees took place under the supervision of Lebanon's General Security in cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Syria's official news agency SANA reported.
Refugees arrived at the Jdeidat Yabous, al-Zamarani and al-Dabbousiya border crossings from Lebanese territories on Thursday. They returned home in buses sent by Syrian authorities.
They hailed sacrifices made by Syrian government forces to restore security and stability in their hometowns, and facilitate their return after years of displacement.
The returnees added that there are large numbers of displaced Syrians who want to return to their villages and towns once they are purged of terrorists.
More than one million Syrian refugees are registered with the UNHCR in Lebanon. But the Beirut government estimates that the true number of Syrians in Lebanon stands at 1.5 million.
Lebanon has urged world powers to “make all efforts” to help the repatriation of Syrian refugees.
“Lebanon calls on the international community to make all efforts possible and provide suitable conditions for a safe return of displaced Syrians,” President Michel Aoun said earlier this year.
In February, Lebanon's minister of state for displaced affairs said his country would stick primarily to a Russian strategy for the return of Syrian refugees to their homeland.
“The Russian strategy will be adopted as a basis for our approach towards the return of Syrian refugees to Syria,” Saleh Gharib told China’s official Xinhua news agency on February 6.
The strategy to help Syrian refugees go back to their homes was drawn up following a meeting between US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in the Finnish capital city of Helsinki on July 16, 2018.
It specifies around 76 residential neighborhoods in Syria's central provinces of Homs and Hama, the northwestern province of Idlib as well as Damascus to enable the return of 360,000 Syrian refugees as a first step.
The strategy also entails the rehabilitation of houses in the mentioned areas, which would allow the return of 500,000 more Syrian refugees within two years.
The Russian and Syrian coordinating headquarters said in a joint statement released on June 10 that around 1.8 million Syrian refugees have returned to their homes and respective areas in Syria.
"Thanks to the consolidated efforts of the Russian and Syrian coordinating headquarters, a vast spectrum of issues concerning organized mass return of Syrian refuges to their places of permanent residence or temporary accommodation centers has been resolved. As of today, about 1.8 million Syrian citizens have already returned to their homes,” the statement read.
The United Nations refugee agency announced late last year that as many as 250,000 Syrian refugees could return to their homeland in 2019.
Some 5.6 million Syrian refugees remain in neighboring countries, namely Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq, Amin Awad, UNHCR director for the Middle East and North Africa, told reporters in Geneva on December 11, 2018.
Moreover, one million Syrian children have been born as refugees ever since crisis began in their country back in March 2011.