'Logistics' hold up Lebanese deal for rebels, refugees to return to Syria


BEIRUT (Reuters) – Implementation of a deal for the return of a group of Syrian refugees and rebels to Syria from Lebanon was delayed on Saturday, with a military news outlet run by the Lebanese group Hezbollah saying it was due to “a logistical problem”.

Some 300 Syrian rebels from a group called Saraya Ahl al-Sham in addition to 3,000 refugees were due to be transported back into Syria on Saturday under the agreement. A Lebanese source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said talks were continuing to resolve the problem, without saying what it was.

The Lebanese security official overseeing the arrangements, General Abbas Ibrahim, said on Friday that under the agreement a group of civilians would return to a Syrian government-held area, while the fighters and their families would go to another area of Syria which he did not identify.

Thousands of Syrian refugees returned to Syria from the same area of the Lebanese-Syrian frontier earlier this month in a similar agreement. Militants from the Nusra Front group left with them under that deal, leaving with the civilians to the rebel-held Idlib province in Syria.

Their departure followed military defeat at the hands of Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Lebanese group that is fighting in support of the Syrian government.

Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Stephen Powell

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