BEIRUT (BNO NEWS) — Syrian forces on Saturday opened fire on refugees fleeing into Lebanon, a security source told the Daily Star.
The source said that the gunfire, which lasted about 20 minutes, began after around 30 families entered Lebanon between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. through the unofficial border crossing at Lebanese border town of Kneisseh in the Wadi Khaled area in the north.
Syrians continue to cross into Lebanon despite the tightened security along the borders by Syrian troops. Some have been killed or wounded in the process, according to reports.
Thousands of Syrians have fled to neighboring countries – Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey- since the unrest began in Syria in mid-March. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said last week that there are currently around 2,300 Syrian refugees in Lebanon, compared to 5,000 in May. It is believed, however, that the real numbers are significantly higher.
According to the UNHCR, there are currently 728 refugees living in poor conditions; 530 persons not hosted by the local community and 1,500 at risk of no longer being hosted by the local community in Lebanon.
Human rights groups said that more than 1,400 people have died since the government crackdown on protesters began and tens of thousands have been arrested. Global campaign group Avaaz said this week that almost 3,000 people have been forcibly disappeared.
In mid-March, pro-democracy demonstrations began in Syria and have continued across the country, which has been ruled by the Baath Party since 1963. Protesters are demanding the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad, who took over his father in 2000.
Assad previously said that the recent events in the country are a conspiracy against national unity. The Syrian government has repeatedly claimed that the violent acts have been instigated by terrorists who use military uniforms and weaponry to pose as soldiers while attacking citizens.