Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat – Senior sources within the Free Syrian Army [FSA] denied claims made by Syrian Permanent Representative to the United Nations [UN] Bashar al-Jaafari that FSA commander Colonel Riad al-Asaad had “recently arrived in Lebanon to prepare for the creation of a Syrian buffer zone within Lebanese territory”, stressing that the FSA commander is currently present in Istanbul where he is meeting with Turkish officials.
FSA spokesman Colonel Khalid al-Hammoud strongly denied claims that al-Asaad was in Lebanon preparing for the establishment of a buffer zone, informing Asharq Al-Awsat that “it is not in the FSA’s interests to establish such a zone in Lebanon, because then we would be trapped between two enemies, namely Hezbollah and the Syrian regime.”
He added “we are not stupid enough to undertake such an adventure, whilst we also do not want to drag Lebanon into events that will have dire consequences.”
The FSA spokesman also informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “when we overthrow the Syrian regime, Hezbollah will return to its natural size and strength, especially after we prevent this group from receiving weapons from Iran.”
Syria’s Permanent Representative to the UN Security Council, Bashar al-Jaafari, issued a statement claiming that some areas in Lebanon close to the Lebanese – Syrian border “have become a breeding ground for Al Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood terrorists who are tampering with the security of Syria and its citizens.”
He claimed that these terrorist elements “are seeking to undermine the six-point plan of UN Special Envoy to Syria Kofi Annan” adding “the headquarters of charity organizations in Lebanese regions close to the Syrian border sponsored by Saalfist groups and the Future Movement…have been transformed into special areas to receive and provide assistance to Al Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood terrorist elements.”
For his part, Lebanese Future bloc MP Khalid Daher strongly denied these accusations, stressing that “everybody is now aware that this murderous regime utilizes deception and lies as its primary approach” adding “this talk represents an insult to the Lebanese government.” The Future bloc MP claimed that al-Jaafari’s recent accusations are nothing more than an attempt to draw attention away from the crimes against humanity taking place in Syria today.
MP Daher also expressed his fear that the al-Assad regime is attempting to export unrest to its neighboring countries, particularly Lebanon. He stressed “Riad al-Asaad is not in Lebanon, nor is he planning to establish a buffer zone in the north, although we do not deny that we have called for the establishment of refugee camps for displaced Syrians [in Lebanon] so that they can be provided the minimum level of comfort.”
Also responding to al-Jaafari’s statement, Lebanese Interior Minister Marwan Charbel stressed that there is no Al Qaeda presence in Lebanon. Speaking to Lebanon’s Al-Mustaqbal newspaper he said “as an Interior Ministry, we have searched everywhere and we have not found any presence of Al Qaeda, whether at the organizational level, in terms of armament or training…and there is no expansion or plotting.”