Nearly 500 refugees return to Syria from Lebanon

Nearly 500 Syrians, including children and elderly who have lived for years as refugees in Lebanon, left for their home country on Wednesday, Reuters reported. In a rare case of a mass return of those who evacuated since the Syrian civil war began in 2011, they left the Shebaa area in southeast Lebanon in 15 buses for the Beit Jinn district in Syria, southwest of Damascus, Reuters reports. The area was recaptured from rebels by pro-government forces in December. The buses reached the Lebanese border on Wednesday afternoon before crossing into Syria. The convoy was organized by the Lebanese authorities. The UN refugee agency UNHCR said it was not involved in organizing “these returns or other returns at this point, considering the prevailing humanitarian and security situation in Syria.”