300 refugees return to Syria from Lebanon border camps
Around 300 refugees returned to their hometown in Syria on Wednesday from northeast Lebanon, where tensions have been high following army raids and suicide attacks on camps in the area.
Lebanon is home to more than a million refugees fleeing the six-year conflict in neighbouring Syria, but Lebanese ministers say they must go home to safe territory as soon as possible.
The refugees returned on Wednesday under a deal negotiated by Syrian rebels in the camps and Lebanese group Hizballah, which is fighting in Syria on behalf of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad's government.
A security source said that the convoy carried between 250 to 300 refugees.
"They included armed fighters and civilians, and left in two waves from camps around Arsal to the town of Assal al-Ward in Syria," the source added.
It was the second organised return for displaced families in Arsal to Assal al-Ward, after Lebanon's army announced a similar operation in early June.
Assal al-Ward, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) southeast of Arsal, has been relatively stable since it was recaptured from rebels by Syrian regime forces and Hizballah.
The UN refugee agency in Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent both denied involved in the operations.
Refugees boarded 24 vehicles, including cars, tractors, and pick-up trucks, crossing the rocky no-man’s land that forms the border between Lebanon and Syria.
They were accompanied by Lebanese army soldiers and the General Security agency, which controls Lebanon's borders, between Arsal and the Lebanon-Syria frontier.
Once in Syria, the group was met by local government officials and members of Hizballah, an AFP correspondent said.