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Lebanese Investigators Gather Information in Death of 4 Syrian Detainees | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Lebanese soldiers on the way to Arsal. (Reuters)

Beirut – An investigation committee has been busy collecting information linked to the death of four Syrian detainees, who were arrested by the Lebanese army during recent raids in refugee encampments in the northeastern border region of Arsal.

The deaths of the detainees has drawn the attention of rights and humanitarian organizations, as well as ambassadors in Lebanon.

As the military-tasked committee collects information, attention will be turned to a medical committee that will soon release a report to reveal the real causse of death.

A Lebanese security source told Asharq Al-Awsat that international delegations that have held talks with the military command hoped that the humanitarian aspects of the refugees be taken into consideration.

They also hoped that a “transparent” investigation be launched in the incident to “determine the truth of what took place during the Arsal raids.”

At the same time, they “hailed the role of the Lebanese army and its sacrifices in combating terrorism and its preemptive operations that are protecting Lebanon against very dangerous terrorist attacks,” added the source.

For its part, the military command informed the international delegations, which included ambassadors, that the army will continue with its counter-terrorism operations, “despite the criticism against it.”

The army is carrying out an internal investigation that is being overseen by concerned judicial authorities to reveal the truth and to “clearly and transparently” offer the results to the public, continued the source.

“The investigation committee has the absolute freedom to look into the case from the minute the army entered Arsal to its battle with the suicide attackers and reaching to the death of the detainees,” it added.

Furthermore, it said that the detainees died before the investigation with them got underway.

On Saturday, the Army Command announced that 13 Syrian detainees that were arrested in the Arsal raids have been referred to the concerned authorities over their involvement in terrorist activity.

In addition, 135 detainees were referred to the General Security general directorate for illegally residing in Lebanon. Twenty-one others have since been released from custody.

Meanwhile, Lebanese army chief of staff Hatem Malak announced that 17 members of the military were wounded in the Arsal raids when they were attacked by suicide bombers who blew themselves up against them.

The corpses of the four detainees were inspected by civil, not military, authorities and under the supervision of the general prosecution, he continued.

They are still with the investigators and will not be released until the investigation, led by General Prosecutor Samir Hammoud, is complete, he added.

He stressed that the detainees did not die during their interrogation by the military, saying that such claims are “inaccurate.”

Malak also demanded that the Arab media “verify claims before broadcasting them and to refrain from fabricating stories, which are aimed at making political gains that the Lebanese army has nothing to do with.”