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Lebanese PM Reveals Army to Carry out ‘Studied’ Operation in Arsal | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A Lebanese soldier sits on a tank at one of the frontline hills overlooking areas controlled by extremists at the edge of Arsal, on the Syrian border, in northeast Lebanon. (AP file photo)

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced on Tuesday that the army will carry out an operation in the northeastern border area of Arsal, reported the National News Agency.

He said that the government has given the army the “freedom” to carry out the “studied and careful” operation in the outskirts of the region that is close to Syria.

Earlier, President Michel Aoun declared that “Lebanon was no longer capable of tolerating the burden of the Syrian refugees.”

“The spread of hatred and incitement are however both rejected because their consequences will be catastrophic on the peoples of both countries,” he added.

Tensions have been high in Lebanon between supporters of the army and the Syrian refugees in wake of military raids in Arsal in late June that saw the arrest of many of the displaced. Four of the detainees died in custody and an investigation has since been launched in the case.

The barren area of Arsal in the mountains between Syria and Lebanon has been a base of operations for insurgents fighting in the Syrian civil war, including extremists from ISIS and the group formerly known as the Nusra Front.

The Lebanese army shells on an almost daily basis the positions of the extremists in those areas.

Speculation has been building that Lebanon’s “Hezbollah” and the Syrian regime are set to mount a major operation against the insurgents on the Syrian side of the frontier.

Hariri however said “there is no coordination between the Lebanese army and Syrian regime”.

A security source said the Lebanese army, a recipient of US and British military aid, had increased its deployment in on the outskirts of Arsal in the last 24 hours.

The source said the militants in the area were estimated to number around 3,000, two-thirds of them belonging to ISIS or the group formerly known as al-Nusra Front, and the remainder members of other rebel groups.

In 2014, the Arsal area was the scene of one of the most serious spillovers of the Syrian war into Lebanon, when extremists briefly overran the town of Arsal.