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Return of refugees to Syria should not be politicized: President Assad tells UN aid chief

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad (R) meets with Martin Griffiths, the UN’s undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, in Damascus on June 26, 2023. (Photo via Twitter)

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has underlined the need for keeping the issue of the return of Syrian refugees to their homeland out of politics, stressing that Damascus wants their safe repatriation.

Assad made the remarks in a meeting with Martin Griffiths, the UN’s undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, in Damascus on Monday, Syria's official news agency SANA reported

He said that the issue of the refugees’ return should be pursued within a humanitarian and moral framework rather than being politicized.

The safe return of the refugees is the prime goal of the Damascus government, he noted, adding that the Syrian state institutions have taken measures to facilitate the process.

Griffiths, for his part, outlined an international plan of action for supporting early recovery projects in Syria and mobilizing efforts on securing the refugees' return.

Nearly six million Syrians, registered by the UN, fled during a foreign-backed campaign of militancy and destruction that began in 2011, most settling in neighboring countries like Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.

In recent years, however, Syrian government forces, backed by Russia and Iran, have managed to win back control of almost all regions from terrorist groups.

With the restoration of peace in the war-torn Arab country, many Syrians have been returning to their homeland, with the government advancing reconstruction projects.

However, Western media, which have long been fanning the flames of the Syrian conflict, have claimed that the refugees are at risk of being detained and tortured upon their return to Syria.

Also on Monday, Griffiths held talks with Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad in Damascus.

The top Syrian diplomat said humanitarian affairs should not be politicized, demanding respect for UN resolutions, as well as Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The UN aid chief, in turn, thanked Syria for cooperation with UN agencies to facilitate humanitarian and relief operations in the country.

West will fail to hamper refugees' return to Syria: Assad

In another development, the Syrian president met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin, during which they discussed Moscow-Damascus relations and cooperation.

Assad asserted that the West will fail to impede Syria’s efforts aimed at restoring security and stability in the country.

The Russian official, for his part, emphasized the importance of Syrian-Russian coordination in international forums and joint efforts against terrorism.

He further expressed Moscow’s support for Syria to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

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