Zaman al-Wasl obtained photographs showing two Syrian refugees, based in Austria, in a visit to their hometown Salamiyah in northwestern Hama province last March as well as they met with a militia commander.
The two brothers Abdul Karim and Yazan Shatat, who got their refugee status in Austria five years ago, left Bregenz city to visit their parents in the desert Salamiyah town east of hama city
According to Zaman al-Wasl source, the parents told people that their sons were on vacation, in such a clear violation of asylum laws, which can lead to the revocation of refugee status.
A person in a military uniform appeared with them in one of the photographs, who was revealed to be Tariq Khalaf, a senior commander in the pro-Bashar al-Assad National Defense militia in Salamiyah, who was responsible for arrest and killing operations and participated in several military operations against civilians in Hama and Idlib countryside.
Several sources in Salamiyah confirmed to Zaman al-Wasl that Tariq Khalaf and the Shatat family are related, and that most of their mother's relatives are Shabiha in the regime's militias and members of its army.
The brothers entered Syria illegally through Lebanon, avoiding official border crossings with the help of Tariq Al-Khalaf using one of the army’s cars that are not subject to inspection, sources said. This way, they avoided having their passports stamped, preserving their refugee status, while also showing the depth of the influence of their family in Assad’s army and militias.
One Syrian refugee residing in the same city as the Shatat brothers said that they are open about their support of the Assad regime and avoid any contact with Syrians in the region.
Every Syrian has the right to flee war in search for a better life. A number of those who fled to EU countries obtained refugee status despite not being in danger of prosecution by the regime.
But human rights advocates believe believe that refugee status should be contingent upon a set of legal restrictions and rules that, in case of violation, should lead to the revocation of asylum, this includes travelling back to their home country, which contradicts the presumption on which refugee protection is granted, that it is unsafe for them to return.
Zaman Al Wasl