New batch of 500 Syria refugees to return from Lebanon
A new batch of hundreds of Syrian refugees have gathered at a Lebanese border town to return home, as part of a coordinated operation between Beirut and Damascus.
Syrian news website Zaman al-Wasl reported on Wednesday that 500 refugees have arrived at the town of Arsal in preparation to repatriated to the Western Qalamoun area.
The move comes after a batch of nearly 300 Syrians crossed back to Syria on Thursday from Arsal.
Earlier this year, around 500 refugees also left southern Lebanon for Syria in a return organised by Beirut and Damascus.
Lebanon hosts just under one million registered refugees from the conflict in Syria, although authorities say the real number is much higher.
However, more and more are returning as the regime reasserts its control over larger parts of the country.
The Syrian regime on Tuesday called on refugees to return, saying it has successfully cleared large areas of "terrorists".
The government refers to all rebel groups as "terrorists."
The head of Lebanon's Hizballah has said his powerful movement was creating a mechanism to help Syrian refugees return home, in coordination with Lebanese authorities and Damascus.
Hassan Nasrallah said the group was setting up centres with phone numbers and social media accounts where refugees could sign up to return home.
More than 920,000 people were displaced inside Syria during the first four months of 2018, the highest level in the seven-year conflict.
Lebanon's foreign minister Gebran Bassil has accused United Nations refugee agency UNHCR of trying to persuade refugees to stay in Syria, and retaliated by blocking the issuing of any new work permits for the agency's foreign staff.