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Lebanese people in Syria

Lebanese people in Syria
Total population
114,000[1] - 800,000
Regions with significant populations
Mostly Damascus and Aleppo. Also Homs, Hama, Latakia, Tartus
Arabic, French, English
Christianity (Greek Orthodox, Melkite Catholic, Maronite Catholic, Protestant) and Islam (Shia/Sunni)
Related ethnic groups
Lebanese people, Lebanese diaspora, Lebanese American, Lebanese Argentine, Lebanese Brazilian, Lebanese Canadians, Lebanese Mexican, Lebanese Colombian

The Lebanese people in Syria are people from Lebanon or those of Lebanese descent who live in the country of Syria. There are many prominent people in Syria who are of Lebanese descent.


On 1 September 1920, France reestablished Greater Lebanon after the Moutasarrifiya rule removed several regions belonging to the Principality of Lebanon and gave them to Syria.[2] The exact population of Lebanese people in Syria is quite difficult to define. In terms of social consequences, the division of Bilad al-Sham presented many dilemmas for its inhabitants. For example, up until 1950, the Lebanese who were born before 1920 considered themselves Syrians; that is why a Lebanese - and a Christian - Fares al-Khoury, was able to assume the position of Prime Minister of Syria in the 1940's.[3] Many who were considered Lebanese by the French mandate worked as Syrian educators, businessmen, traders, etc. and did not distinguish themselves from the Syrians as such.[3] As to border lines, they were fictitious in the eyes of the population, especially for those who were living on one side or the other of the border. Hence, an extended family, tribe or clan, found itself divided by such lines, placing one part of the family within Syrian territory, and the other part within Lebanon.[3] In addition, there are several towns and villages inhabited by a community of some 15,000 Lebanese Shiites who have lived for decades on the Syrian side of a frontier that is not clearly demarcated in places and not fully controlled by border authorities. They are mostly Lebanese citizens, though some have dual citizenship or are only Syrian citizens.[4]

Religious affiliations

The Lebanese people of Syria are predominantly Lebanese Shia Twelver Muslim and Lebanese Christian (Greek Orthodox, Melkite, Maronite, Protestant) with a tiny minority that belongs to Sunni Islam in Lebanon.

More specifically, most Lebanese people within the territory of Syria belong to either Twelver Shia Islam, Maronite or Greek Orthodox Christianity.

The Lebanese Twelvers/Imamis in Syria, numbering about 750,000 or 3% of the population of Syria. In Damascus there are Lebanese Twelvers/Imamis living near to the Shia pilgrimage sites, especially in the al-Amara-quarter which is near to Umayyad Mosque and Sayyidah Ruqayya Mosque, and around Sayyidah Zaynab Mosque. An other important site is Bab Saghir Cemetery. The Shia Twelvers in Syria have close links to the Lebanese Shi'a Twelvers.[5] Twelver Shias are also found in villages in Idlib, Homs and Aleppo provinces. More specifically, the Lebanese Shiite enclave on the Syrian side of the border is near the central city of Homs and across from Hermel, a predominantly Shiite region of northeastern Lebanon.[4]

The Lebanese Maronites in Syria are members of the Maronite Church and total 51,000, belonging to the archdioceses of Aleppo and Damascus and the Diocese of Latakia.[6]

As a result of the Syrian Civil War many Lebanese people from Syria, mainly dual citizens of Lebanon and Syria, returned and continue to return to Lebanon.[4][7] Many of this dual citizens from the so-called “Lebanese villages” – or predominantly Shiite villages just inside Syria, where the villagers are said to hold Lebanese citizenship.[8] Also, Lebanese Shias try to defend the Lebanese Shias' area around the holy Shiite shrine of Sayida Zeinab, named for the granddaughter of Islam's Prophet Muhammad's, south of Damascus.[4] Unfortunately, the conflict around these border areas with Lebanese minority populations is used to increase the Syrian Civil War spillover in Lebanon.[8]

Notable people

See also