Le­banon army to act against mil­i­tants near bor­der: PM

Muscat Daily - - REGION -

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.

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