The Syrian refugee tragedy in Lebanon

A Syrian living in Paris sends an angry and emotional letter to the world - and particularly to the Lebanese.

Dr. Mordechai Kedar

OpEds A Syrian boy mourns his brother and sister after they were killed during fighting in Aleppo, Syria
A Syrian boy mourns his brother and sister after they were killed during fighting in Aleppo, Syria
Eliran Aharon

Earlier this July, Fahad Almasri, a Syrian living in Paris, published the following document: (my comments are in parentheses, M.K.)

Open letter on the Syrian refugee tragedy in Lebanon

To the Secretary General of the United Nations, the permanent  members of the Security Council,  monarchs, presidents, prime ministers and emirs of Arab states, the secretary of the Arab League, the High Commissioner  for  Refugees, the heads of human rights NGOs and the world's refugees.

Paris, July 3, 2017

The Lebanese city, Arsal, has borne witness as a new and terrible chapter unfolds in the saga of persecution suffered by Syrian refugees. The Lebanese army and Hezbollah terrorist militias perpetrated a horrible massacre in two Syrian refugee camps, Alnor and  Alkariya on June 30, 2017, murdering 10 Syrian citizens. One of them was a young girl run over  by army vehicle chains, another an elderly amputee in a wheelchair. There were tens of injured and close to 400 detainees who were shamed, beaten and tortured.

.Arsal borders on the Alkemon region of Syria, and has 117 Syrian refugee camps housing over 100,000 refugees, most of them from the Homs district., Alkemon, and the rural area to the west of Damascus.  (They are all Sunnis who fled to Arsal because  Arsal is the only Sunni city in a sea of Shiite Lebanese villages loyal to Hezbollah).

Arsal's residents  paid a high price for their loyalty to the Syrian – Sunni - people and the Syrian-Sunni rebellion (against the Alawites who are Shiite-backed.)

In their attack (on the refugees) the Lebanese army and  Hezbollah employed bombs, live ammunition and armored cars, causing deaths, injuries, the destruction of  tents and their contents, leaving panic-stricken women, children and elderly persons, while using ridiculous excuses to explain their actions. Some of the fighters, Hezbollah terrorists, humiliated the women by conducting body searches, stripping and shaming them in public.

On June 8th, three weeks before the attack on the refugee camps in Arsal, we warned of its imminent occurrence based on exact intelligence reports reaching us from organizations that disclosed Hezbollah's plans and intentions. These plans were coordinated with Daesh so that they would take place in an atmosphere of fanaticism and moral turpitude, demanding of the refugees that they return to the areas in Syria from whence they came and  which are now not under Assad forces' control.

The Lebanese government, completely taken over by the terrorist Hezbollah, claims mendaciousy that there are Syian armed fighters and terrorists in Arsal. A look at the situation proves this claim to be spurious, since there is no document or other proof to be seen, nor is there physical evidence of infiltration. In fact, the Arsal area is surrounded and laid siege to by Lebanese army and Hezbollah militia units. No suicide bomber or any stranger at all can enter the camps because of the manned and carefully supervised checkpoints.

It would be fitting for the Lebanese army, so brave when it comes to facing hapless unfortunates,  the weakened, poverty-stricken and desperate refugees, to show its mettle by letting the Lebanese, Arab and international public know how the armed-to-the-teeth Hezbollah militias, along with their weapons, heavy military vehicles and equipment, somehow managed to enter Syria and bomb it with artillery and rockets from the highest points of the Hermel range and the areas opposite the village of Kutsir.

Can the Lebanese army explain how Hezbollah militias managed to hold a military parade last year in the Syrian city of al-Quseir, – conquered on November 11, 2016 – marching with American and Western tanks, APCs and army vehicles belonging to the Lebanes army? What does the Lebanese state intend to do about the thousands of dead and wounded citizens who crossed into Syria to join Hezbollah militias?

We demand that the international community send UN forces to the Syria-Lebanon border in order to prevent Hezbollah involvement in Syria and attacks on Syrian soil which originate in Lebanon. These attacks prove the falsity of Hezbollah and Lebanese government claims that there is terrorist infiltration from Syria to Lebanon.

We demand that the international community send a UN Investigative Committee to Lebanon to search for the chemical weapons Hezbollah obtained from Syria during the course of 2013. We demand that the search include all Hezbollah arsenals containing weapons of mass destruction and located in Lebanon, especially as Mount Senin, Uyun Arghash, Jard al-Yamouna near Mishmish, between Jard al-Harmal and Jard Akkar.

We demand that the international community carry out air attacks to destroy the secret tunnels Hezbollah has dug between Syria and Lebanon. This will stop the arms smuggling between the two countries. These air attacks must include Hezbollah weapons arsenals in the rural outskirts of al-Quseir, and those west of Damascus, as well as the border way-station used by Iran and Hezbollah for storing arms before smuggling them into Lebanon.

We demand that the international community attack Hezbollah military concentrations in rural areas near Homs, this in order to enable the Syrian refugees now in the Arsal camp to return to their homes, especially those from the city of  al-Quseir and the villages of  al-Fadila, Zeita, al-Jantila, Kukran, al-Diabia, Ballouza, Hawik, Matraba, al-Safsafa, al-Hammam and Wadi Hanna.

The continued silence of the international community regarding the Syrian holocaust, its profiting from the blood and suffering of the Syrian people and the demise of any possibility of achieving a just solution in Syria, will generate more violence, bring on new and catastrophic crises. Everyone will pay if there is no attempt to put an end soon to this tragedy of historic proportions, an eternal mark of Cain on the forehead of the entire world.

O, ye people of Lebanon!

We condemn in the strongest terms the treasonous collaboration of politicians and leaders who took part in the Lebanese regime along with Hezbollah, well aware that this means taking part in the Syrian genocide, destruction of its towns and villages and the conquest of its soil.

The political and moral turpitude is truly saddening, truly revolting, especially so when Lebanese join forces with those who turned Lebanon into a handmaiden of the stupid Iranian command force, supporting those who filled the bitter cup of the Syrian and Lebanese peoples with useless wars, ignoring the fact that Assad murdered so many of Lebanon's political, cultural, media and intellectual elite, kidnapping their sons and incarcerating them in his prison camps.

The Syrian people were never at all hostile to Lebanon and its people, had no hand in the recent conquest of Lebanon by their criminal ruler, Assad. The Lebanese, who have had their fill of troubles caused by Assad's regime, should join the Syrian people in their time of trial, or at least remain neutral.

The Syrian people did not begin their rebellion for any reason other than a quest for liberty, social justice and self-respect. We have no problems with the Shiites or any other group (read Alawites). We have no deep-seated problem with Hezbollah either, except that it began attacking our country and killing our citizens.

We consider our rebellion one of persecuted and downtrodden people - every son of ours who becomes a victim is like Hussein (son of Ali, Shiite founder), every victimized daughter like Zinab (daughter of  Ali, sister of Hussein). Our people's lot is to be like Jesus who bears the pain of the entire Umma on his back, and there  will be no liberty for Lebanon and the entire Middle East unless Syria is free. All must realize that the Syrian people have paid and will pay the price of liberty for the entire East.

O, ye people of Lebanon!

The Syrian people will never forget all the Lebanese liberals who stood at its side but will also never forget to hold a day of reckoning with those who wronged us. Imagine how we are going to confront one another in post-Assad Syria and how you will be hit with the retribution the New Syria imposes on Lebanon and a good many Lebanese. Imagine the amount of reparations that will be demanded from you and all those who had a hand in murdering the sons of the Syrian people and destroying our  villages and cities.

Syria's and Lebanon's internecine problem has moved way beyond the boundaries of a crisis between two nations and has become a regional and international pan-Arab problem.

We want to remind Lebanon and some few Lebanese – and the media which spreads the racist anti-refugee poison, taking the side of  the Syrian criminal murderer - that the Syrian people, in particular the residents of al-Quseir, , its agricultural environs and the agricultural area west of Damascus (Sunni regions) were the first to open their hearts and homes, to welcome you like dear and honored brothers, sharing their last piece of bread with you in the 2006 war (The Second  Lebanon War). Instead of being grateful, you repaid us with a stab in the back and base treachery, taking care to murder and destroy us in those very same regions.

To all the racists, Hezbollah members, their backers and all the Assad supporters in Lebanon, we say: Look at the map, open your eyes wide, and note that Syria is the only land passage you have (to the rest of the Arab world). It is the lung which allows you to breathe. You will pay for the suffering you have inflicted on Syria and its people. Rest assured that on the same scale of our reliance on Allah, his existence and power, so we are going to make sure that Assad and his regime disappear – and we will grant no mercy to those who inflicted harm on our people.    

Translated from Hebrew by Rochel Sylvetsky