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lebanon , syria mapThe Syrian  government is reportedly outraged over the latest measures (taken by Lebanon’s government aimed at  controlling the influx of  the Syrian refugees ), calling them a “flagrant violation of the Lebanese-Syrian treaty that could aggravate relations between the two neighboring countries”, according to As Safir  daily, which is closely linked to the Syrian regime.

Well-informed sources reportedly  did not rule out the possibility that the Syrian regime could take similar measures as a retaliatory action by closing the transit border route between Lebanon and the Arab countries.

“What if the Syrian authorities decided to close the vital route that links Lebanon to the Arab countries. How would the Lebanese authorities react to such a measure, and what will the reaction of merchants, truck drivers, and thousands of Lebanese families who live of agricultural exports to Arab markets do,” the source told As Safir .

Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas stressed on Thursday that the new visa measures affecting the Syrians traveling to Lebanon do not apply to the Syrian refugees who are already in Lebanon and registered with UNHCR, As-Safir newspaper  also reported on Thursday.

“The new regulations do not apply to the Syrians who are holding a refugee card and registered by the U.N. refugee agency” UNHCR, Derbas told As Safir newspaper, but added.

“However, if the refugee decides to go back to Syria and then return to Lebanon they will then have to comply with the new regulations and justify the reason behind their return,” Derbas said

Lebanon started on Monday imposing the new entry restrictions on Syrians, including those fleeing their country’s civil war.

The new entry restrictions were highlighted during a meeting between head of the Lebanese-Syrian Higher Council Nasri Khoury and General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim.

UNHCR said Lebanon shot up from being the 69th largest refugee-hosting country to second largest within just three and a half years.

Syria has always in the past tried to use the  transit trucking route to impose its own will on Lebanon and  for this reason many shipping experts proposed that Lebanon  should use the sea  for shipping.

 One people  2 countries

Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon  Ali Abdel-Karim Ali rejected  on Friday Lebanon’s new entry measures  ,  stressing that the Lebanese and the Syrians were one people belonging to two countries.

“The Lebanese measures requiring Syrians to obtain visas on the border are totally rejected and unworkable,” Ali told local daily As-Safir .

“The move came without coordination with the Syrian government,” he argued. “This is an unacceptable move given the special relations between Lebanon and Syria since the Lebanese and Syrians are in fact one people in two states.”

Ali called on the Lebanese government to reconsider the measure, saying Lebanon “will not be able to triumph over terrorism without coordination with Damascus.”

“We leave it to the Lebanese government to make a correct judgment concerning the entry measures for Syrian nationals on the borders,” Ali told Lebanese  television channel OTV. “We do not want to escalate since that would lead to a logic that serves neither of the two countries.”
Largest Number of Syrian refugees

A U.N. report said on Wednesday that Lebanon is hosting the largest number of new refugee arrivals between January and June 2014.

UNHCR said Lebanon shot up from being the 69th largest refugee-hosting country to second largest within just three and a half years.

The number of Syrian refugees grew by 704,000 in the first six months of last year and they are now the largest group under the U.N. refugee agency’s mandate, a United Nations report said Wednesday.

The new Lebanese measure raise the prospect of Syrians being unable to flee the violence that has killed more than 200,000 people since March 2011.

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