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Lebanon’s Qaa Explosions Egging on Sectarian Strife | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Lebanese army soldiers patrol near the site where suicide bomb attacks took place in the Christian village of Qaa, in the Bekaa valley, Lebanon June 27, 2016. REUTERS/Hassan Abdallah

Beirut- Earlier last week a series of eight suicide attacks shocked the Christian Qaa diminutive village located far in the northeast area of the Bekka governorate, Lebanon. The village lies proximate to borderlines with Syria.

As any other action, a countering reaction is systematic –in the case of the Qaa attacks the aftermath was precarious. The explosions indicate that the extremist rings deployed in the region have become accustomed and immune to intelligence operations and precautionary measures, despite that the same security body was able to neutralize and dismantle many ISIS-linked terrorist cells.

The series of explosions first launched on Monday morning, with the first suicide ring staging the attack- the other bombings followed soon in the evening, and were staged by the second terrorist cell.

The first ring comprised four suicide attackers who were laced with explosives that detonated sequentially at dawn. After the first explosion went off, security officials and Lebanese army members hustled to the area engaging in clashes with the other three suicide attackers that detonated in turn separated by a ten minute interval.

Nine were killed by the first wave of attacks, four of which were the perpetrators themselves, while another 15 were injured.

After a few hours of deceiving tranquility invaded with sorrow and tremor caused by the attack, the second phase of the attacks resumed later in the evening, leaving another six injured, one of which is in a critical situation.

Later that week, an official statement was made on arresting to new ISIS-affiliated rings. Army authorities stated last Thursday that to terrorist attacks were thwarted, in which ISIS had planned on targeting a touristic site and a densely populated area.

Another five members affiliated with the perpetrated attacks were arrested, the mastermind expected to be among them.

Most of the rings apprehended due to affiliations with ISIS appear to be of Syrian origins, which had recently illegally crossed borders into Lebanon. A source at the Ministry of Interior told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the terrorist cells mainly composed at a 65 to 90 percent of Syrian members.

Overrun by Syrian refugees, Lebanon is said to have received over 1.1 million asylum seekers, 400,000 of which reside in the Bekka valley.

Security sources, interviewed by Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper said that the substantial decrease in ISIS local activity could be traced back to the high-end measures and raiding campaigns conducted by security forces. The decrease also translates to ISIS attacks in Lebanon to be highly dependent on local recruitment, with training and recruitment cells being zeroed in on by authorities; terrorist activity fell consecutively.

The demographic view of the Bekka currently cites four chief towns aside from the Baalbek hosting an assorted population, two of which are Christian (one of which is Qaa), a Sunni town known by Arsal and a Shi’ite town called Labweh.

As the Syria war escalated, the refugee influx increased raising further tension among inner Lebanon population. Split views surfaced, Sunnis largely supporting the Syrian opposition’s quest to topple over a dictator’s regime, while a countering view of Christians who perceived all refugees to be automatically related to ISIS.

What added to the mix is that Shi’ite towns loudly state their stance from the Syria war as they support the so-called Hezbollah’s endeavor in fighting side by side to the Syrian regime head Bashar al-Assad.

Finding one more thing to differ over, it is feared that the Syrian tensions would evolve within a Lebanese hub spurring sectarian strife and flirting with chaos. The Qaa explosions added to the already tense situation, heightening the already mounted tension courting a Lebanese civil war.