BEIRUT: General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim visited Syria to discuss the issue of the return of Lebanese to Lebanon amid the coronavirus crisis, local newspaper Al-Joumhouriya reported Wednesday.

Major General Abbas Ibrahim , head of Lebanon’s Directorate of General Security (DGS) is a member of the Amal Movement which is closely associated Hezbollah

Ibrahim told the local daily that he met with Syrian security officials to coordinate the return of Lebanese to Lebanon and foreigners who want to travel abroad through the Beirut International Airport, which according to him will be arranged.

“The border will currently be opened [for] returns [to Lebanon],” Abbas said.

Concerning the return of Syrians back to Syria, “the Syrian authorities are still blocking its borders,” Abbas told Al-Joumhouriya.

However Abbas noted that meetings will soon be held on the matter and decisions will be made for the return of Syrians.

Illegal border crossings – that were ordered to be shut down by Cabinet last week – along the Lebanese-Syrian border was also discussed.

When asked about smuggling, Ibrahim said that it is a permanent topic on the discussion table.

Earlier this month Lebanese media reported that sales of wheat flour in Lebanon surged , because it was being smuggled through illegal border crossings to Syria .

In Lebanon the cost of one metric ton is $150 while in Syria it is $320 .

Due to scarcity of the dollar in Lebanon , the Central bank allows only the import of wheat and medicine at the pegged exchange rate of 1507.5 LL per US $, while the black market rate is above 4000LL to the dollar .

In Lebanon most of the illegal border crossings as well as the ports and airport are controlled by the Iranian backed Hezbollah militant group , the main backer of the government of PM Hassan Diab .

Lebanon subsidizes the wheat at a great cost . It is milled in Lebanon and sold as wheat flour at low subsidized prices in order for the bakeries to maintain the fixed price of the bread pack . The ministry of economy fixed the bread pack at 1500 LL.

Diesel fuel is the other subsidized commodity being smuggled to Syria using the illegal border crossings

Daily Star /YL

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