Lebanese president calls for safe zones in Syria for refugees

February 3, 2017 16:20

BEIRUT, Feb 3 - Lebanese President Michel Aoun said on Friday world powers must work with Damascus to create safe zones in Syria so refugees can return to their country.

It was the first time the Beirut government had lent its support to such a plan. At least a million people have fled the Syrian civil war since 2011 into Lebanon, which has an estimated total population of less than six million.

Lebanon would not force unsafe return on any refugees, but the international community must make their return possible, Aoun's office quoted him as saying in a meeting on Friday with U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

He said it was "important to achieve a political solution" to the conflict. Aoun is an ally of Lebanon's Hezbollah group which is fighting in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad.

US President Trump said last week he would "absolutely do safe zones in Syria" for refugees fleeing violence and that Europe had made a mistake by admitting millions of refugees.

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