Geagea blasts ‘big deception campaign’ on Syrian refugees by Assad’s Lebanese allies

geageaLebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea on Wednesday slammed State Minister for Refugee Affairs Saleh al-Gharib’s visit to Syria and attacked what he called a “big deception campaign ” on Syrian refugees

“The two discouraging signals represented in Minister Saleh al-Gharib’s visit to Syria and Minister Elias Bou Saab’s stance at the Munich conference can only spark concern over the future of the government’s work,” Geagea said in an interview with the Central News Agency (CNA) .

“There is a big deception campaign that is taking place at the expense of the Syrian refugees cause,” he added, wondering “how the head of a regime that has displaced its people and is pressing on with its punitive and intimidatory policies could secure the refugees’ return.”

He added: “All signals clearly indicate that the refugees do not want to return due to Assad’s presence as the head of the regime, so how can communication with him become a way to return the refugees? Such an approach cannot convince any reasonable person and is a mere attempt to deviate attention and a trick that can no longer deceive the Lebanese.”

“It is only a window that they are trying to open to drag Lebanon into normalization with Syria,” Geagea went on to say, praising Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s decision to “label al-Gharib’s visit as a personal one.”

Turning to Bou Saab’s stance, the LF leader described it as “unacceptable.”

“What he said does not reflect the stance of the government, which has not convened yet to specify its stance,” Geagea added.

“Who has tasked him with announcing Lebanon’s stance on the safe zone in Syria?” he wondered.

Bou Saab announced Friday at Munich’s conference that “any Turkish presence on Syrian territory without the Syrian state’s approval is unwelcome, illegitimate and is considered an occupation.”

Turkey is the main backer of the Syrian rebels , the Free Syrian Army, while Bou Saab and al-Gharib are closely allied with President Aoun a close ally of the Syrian regime and the Iranian backed Hezbollah militant group.

Thousands of Hezbollah fighters died while defending the Syrian regime against the rebels since 2013

Al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc had on Tuesday called on “some political leaders and forces” to respect the requirements of governmental solidarity, warning that any breach of it would “disrupt the positive atmosphere that prevailed after the formation of the government and the commitments that were mentioned in the Policy Statement and the premier’s remarks.”