Syria to Refugees: Time to Come Home
Syria's interior ministry on Thursday called on refugees who escaped to Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon over the past months' bloody street battles in the country to come home. The Ministry said in a statement that with the implementation of the ceasefire in the country, calm had returned to Syria, and there was no reason for anyone to remain a refugee. As far as reports of continued shootings by Syrian troops against civilians, the Ministry suggested that the refugees ignore them, as they were “false reports.”
Among those reports was one that said that Syrian soldiers on Thursday had killed three civilians. A Syrian opposition group said that at least one had been killed in an attack by soldiers Thursday morning outside the city of Hama by “civilian supporters” of the regime of Bashar al-Assad, while others were killed in the suburbs of Damascus. The group also said that there was military activity in many Syrian cities, although it was noticeably muted as compared to the activity in recent weeks.
Some 9,000 people have been killed in Syria over the past 13 months, as opposition groups organized to unseat Bashar al-Assad as President of Syria. Tens of thousands of people have been put in prison for protest activity, while tens of thousands of others escaped to refugee camps in neighboring countries, especially Turkey.
In an interview with Arab media, the deputy commander of the Free Syrian Army, Maliki al-Khardy, said that his group would continue fighting to “defend the Syrian people as the government tries to slaughter them. Explosions and gunfire are continuing, despite the cease fire. I doubt very much that the government will allow citizens to hold peaceful demonstrations to demand their freedom, despite the cease fire,” al-Khardy said. “We are committed to making the cease fire work,” he said, but added that “of course the members of the Free Syrian Army will defend themselves and the Syrian people, especially as Bashar Assad's gangs continue to shoot at us.”