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Lebanese sending refugees back to Syria

Syrian anti-government protesters shout slogans during a demonstration at Souk Al-Hamadiyeh street on Friday, March 25, 2011, after Friday prayers at Omayyed mosque in the center of Damascus Old City in Syria. Hundreds of Syrians protesters chanted slogans calling for the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. UPI/Ali Bitar
Syrian anti-government protesters shout slogans during a demonstration at Souk Al-Hamadiyeh street on Friday, March 25, 2011, after Friday prayers at Omayyed mosque in the center of Damascus Old City in Syria. Hundreds of Syrians protesters chanted slogans calling for the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. UPI/Ali Bitar | License Photo

WADI KHALED, Lebanon, May 11 (UPI) -- Lebanese security agents are forcing Syrian refugees back across the border, residents of a northern Lebanese town say.

Witnesses tell The Guardian hundreds of people fled the Syrian border town of Tell Kalakh -- carrying wounded relatives with them -- and crossed into Lebanon near Wadi Khaled over the weekend.

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Lebanese intelligence agents rounded up most of them within hours and turned them over to Syrian authorities, witnesses said.

"There were roadblocks everywhere," said a resident would not give his name. "It was impossible to hide who these people were. They were looking for Syrians escaping Tell Kalakh. … Why does Lebanon send our brothers back to be killed and tortured by these monsters?"

The Lebanese army would not comment, but an official who requested anonymity told The Guardian Syria is strongly pressuring Lebanon to stop the refugee flow.

Syria also charges that opponents of the Assad regime have been getting weapons from Lebanon.

Northern Lebanon has seen clashes between Sunni Muslims and Alawites, whose co-religionists rule Syria, and officials fear a spillover of sectarian conflict.

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