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The New Arab

Syrian activists on hunger strike demanding justice for refugees 'tortured to death' in Lebanese custody

Over a million Syrian refugees live in Lebanon [Getty]

Date of publication: 9 July, 2017

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A group of Syrian activists from across the world have started a hunger strike demanding Beirut investigates the killing of refugees in Lebanese military custody.

A group of activists went on hunger strike this week to protest against the suspected killing of Syrian refugees in detention by the Lebanese military.

Twenty-six Syrian activists from across the world announced the start of the protests on Wednesday, as news emerged that at least four Syrian refugees have died in Lebanese military custody.

The activists said they were protesting against the poor treatment of Syrians in Lebanon in general and demanded investigations into the suspected killing of detainees by the Lebanese military and want better protection of refugees.

"We request binding all countries to protect Syrian refugees who escaped the airstrikes of the Syrian regime - and its allies - on civilian homes with barrel bombs and chemical weapons," a group of Syrian activists protesting outside the Lebanese embassy in the Netherlands told Orient News.

"We also demand the extraction of the terrorist Hizballah... [from areas around Syrian refugee camps]. The UN has to bear its responsibilities and stop the... abuse in places of refuge, including Lebanon."

It follows raids by the Lebanese military on refugee camps around al-Arsal on 30 June, close to the Syrian border.

Activists have shared images purported to be from the camps showing the humiliation of Syrians by security forces and signs of torture on those arrested.

The Lebanese military claimed that five suicide bombers attacked troops during the raid, killing one child, but this version of events has been disputed by Arsal residents and activists.

In the days following, at least four Syrians died in Lebanese detention with opposition groups saying the real figure was ten.

Lebanon said they died of "chronic illness" but photos said to be of the men's bodies showed signs of torture.

Lebanese and Syrian human rights groups have called for independent investigations into the killings.

A military prosecutor ordered an investigation into the deaths of the men on Saturday.

Activists allege that Hizballah took part in some of the raids with the Lebanese Shia militia playing a leading role in Bashar al-Assad's war against rebels in Syria.

The military has frequently clashed with al-Qaeda and Islamic State group fighters around Arsal and militants holding 30 troops and police officers hostage in 2014.

Four of the captives were murdered by the militants while another died from his wounds sustained during earlier clashes.

Most were released following a deal with the Lebanese government.

Over a million Syrian refugees fled to neighbouring Lebanon following the outbreak of war in Syria in 2011 when regime troops brutally put down anti-government protests leading to a wider conflict.

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