Plane Returning Migrants From Belarus Lands in Iraq

A Syrian migrant makes his way across fields in southern Jordan on March 11, 2018. (Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images)

Plane Returning Migrants From Belarus Lands in Iraq

A plane carrying Lebanese refugees from Belarus landed in Iraq’s Kurdish Region of Iraq on April 27.

At least 500 Lebanese citizens left from the state-run Cyprus Airlines flight 799 around 1 p.m. local time, in a Boeing 737 aircraft based in Minsk, Belarus.

According to pro-government Lebanon Daily Star, the plane took off from Latakia International Airport in Syria.

Lebanon is only able to take in 800 Syrian refugees per month, as fighting broke out more than seven years ago. The Lebanese government will distribute visas to Syrian refugees after they are on the ground. The Syrian ambassador to Lebanon said he and his countrymen hope to return before the June 12 summit between United States President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.

Past negotiations were not successful, and Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri told a reporter on the plane that Syrian refugees hoping to return were not allowed to enter Lebanon “because they are considered illegal.”

“But they are legal in our mind. We will wait and see if it happens,” Hariri said.

Every month, about 2,000 Syrians arrive to Lebanon, then decide to apply for a visa after obtaining one, according to Lebanon News Daily.

In response to the Syrian crisis, which has seen hundreds of thousands killed since it began in 2011, Lebanon has become the European Union’s biggest aid recipient in the Middle East. Last year, Lebanon received $3.4 billion in aid.

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