Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Hariri Defends Lebanese Army against Critics of its Handling of Syrian Refugees | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page
Media ID: 55378471

Lebanese PM Saad Hariri speaks to reporters following talks with Defense Minister Yacoub al-Sarraf and Army Commander Joseph Aoun at the Grand Serail on July 10. (Dalati & Nohra)

Beirut – Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri stressed on Monday that the army enjoys “complete” political support in wake of criticism it came under following the death of four Syrian detainees, who were arrested after military raids in the northeastern border region of Arsal in late June.

“Those criticizing the army are trying to create tensions between the military forces and Syrian refugees,” declared the prime minister after holding talks with Defense Minister Yacoub al-Sarraf and Army Commander General Joseph Aoun.

Hariri also described as “very successful” the army’s Arsal raid, which saw five suicide bomber blow themselves up against the military. Several refugees were also detained in the operation.

“Lebanon would have faced a major problem had the operation not been carried out,” the PM told reporters at the Grand Serail.

“Those explosives were going to be targeting Lebanon,” he stressed.

“The military entered an encampment of some 10,000 people and it carried out a major operation and thankfully no civilians were injured,” Hariri stated.

On the death of the four detainees, he said that the army is carrying out a “clear and transparent” investigation in the matter.

“We reject any questioning of the credibility of the investigation, which will deliver its findings within two or three days,” Hariri added.

The army is keen on following legal measures and “political support for the military is unconditional,” he declared.

Security sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Army Command is “very much at ease” with the results of the meeting held between Hariri, Sarraf and Aoun.

“The army commander received great political support to continue its mission in combating terrorism. This support has never even stopped,” it added.

“We will witness even greater efforts by the military after the Grand Serail meeting affirmed that the army is above suspicion,” they stressed.

Hariri’s stance during his meeting with the defense minister and army commander have “put an end to all campaigns that have criticized the army, which is employing the best of its youth in defending the nation,” stated the security sources.

“The blood of the wounded that was shed in the Arsal raid has not gone to waste and it is now time to shift attention once again towards the army’s achievement in preventing the spread of terrorism,” they said.

The Army Command has meanwhile continued its investigation with the detainees that were arrested during the Arsal raid, announcing that 20 suspects have been referred to the judiciary for their terrorist links and 23 others have been released without charge.

Meanwhile, and for the third consecutive day, Syrian regime jets continued to shell Lebanese border areas on the outskirts of Arsal, reported the National News Agency.

The shelling targeted al-Nusra Front positions in the area. No official announcement was made on the issue, but Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdul Karim Ali said: “What if Syrian jets violate Lebanese airspace or Lebanese jets violate Syrian airspace. This issue is coordinated between the two countries.”

“This violation is aimed at striking terrorism that is threatening Lebanon as it threatens Syria,” he explained.