Syrian refugees on a bus waiting to leave Beirut to travel back to Syria | Photo: EPA/Nabil Mounzer
Syrian refugees on a bus waiting to leave Beirut to travel back to Syria | Photo: EPA/Nabil Mounzer

A new "wave" of Syrian refugees reportedly returned home from Lebanon last week. Meanwhile, people continue to be displaced in northwestern Syria, where fighting continues.

A new wave of Syrian refugees travelled back to Syria from several areas of Lebanon on February 13, according to Lebanese and Syrian media reports. The government-run Syrian news agency Sana said that "dozens" of refugees returned home. Lebanon's government agency NNA said "hundreds" had left. 

Up to one million civilians have fled to Lebanon since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011. Lebanon has a local population of less than four million. 

The repatriation of Syrian citizens is organized by the Lebanese government in cooperation with Syrian authorities. Repatriations have been described as "voluntary" returns although a number of local analysts have stressed that Syrian refugees are forced to return home because of the difficult humanitarian conditions they experience in Lebanon and the absence of a legislative framework protecting them from discrimination. 

100,000 displaced in 48 hours, NGO 

Meanwhile, the ongoing violence in Syria has forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes. According to the UN, an estimated 700,000 people were displaced between the beginning of December and the first week of February. 

On February 13, the UK-based monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that over the previous 48 hours, a reported 100,000 Syrian civilians were displaced in northwestern Syria, because of the Russian-Syrian government offensive and Turkey's military operation.  

According to the organization, tens of thousands of civilians have fled the districts south-west of Aleppo and are now travelling towards the Turkish border. The majority are women and children, the NGO said.

The organization also reported that a Syrian family of four -- a couple and their two children -- who had fled from the violence-torn region of Idlib, died by asphyxiation due to a faulty old stove in their tent in the area of Jabal Zawiya. 
 

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