Lebanon army to act against militants near border: PM
Beirut, Lebanon - Lebanese security forces will launch an operation against militants near informal refugee camps in the country’s east after coming under attack there, Lebanon’s Prime Minister said on Tuesday.
Saad Hariri’s announcement came as the country’s President Michel Aoun warned against rising anti-refugee rhetoric after Lebanese troops were attacked around Arsal, a town near the Syrian border.
“The Lebanese army will carry out a planned-out operation in Jurud Arsal and the government gives it freedom [to do so],” Hariri said in comments quoted by the official National News Agency.
Jurud Arsal refers to the mountainous border region around Arsal, and is home to thousands of refugees from neighbouring Syria living in informal camps.
Lebanese troops carrying out arrest raids in two of those camps in late June were met with a string of suicide attacks and grenades. A girl was killed and seven soldiers wounded in the attacks, and the army subsequently arrested dozens of people.
Days later, the army said four of the detainees had died of preexisting medical conditions, but rights groups urged an independent investigation after allegations that the men had been tortured to death.
Lebanese security forces have come under attack in Arsal before, and in 2014 extremists kidnapped 30 soldiers and policemen after clashes in the area. Four of the hostages were killed and a fifth died of his wounds, while 16 were eventually released in December 2015.
Another nine hostages are still being held.
The latest incident in Arsal has created renewed tensions in a country of just 4mn people hosting more than a million Syrian refugees.