Lebanese Army Arrested 945 in February

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Thursday, March 5, 2015

Some 945 people were arrested in February on suspicion of either involvement in “terrorist acts” or shootings, smuggling and drug trafficking, the Lebanese army said in a statement Wednesday.

According to the statement, as part of the security plan being implemented in various areas across Lebanon, the military arrested “945 individuals of different nationalities” involved in “terrorist acts, shootings, drug trafficking, arms smuggling, the possession of weapons” as well as other minor offenses such as residing in Lebanon without residency permits and driving without legal papers.

Many refugees fleeing war-torn Syria have been residing in Lebanon without permits.

Lebanon has tightened border restrictions since January in an effort to curb the entry of Syrians into its territories.

In the past, citizens of both countries had been able to travel freely across their shared border since Lebanon gained independence in 1943.

However, Lebanon’s population has grown by nearly 25 percent since the war in Syria began in 2011, with over 1.5 million Syrian refugees sheltered in a country with a population of 4 million, making it the highest per capita concentration of refugees in the world.

A total of 209 cars, 68 motorcycles, a fishing boat, weapons, military equipment, and drugs were also seized in February, the army added.

On Tuesday, 32-year-old Mohammad Hussein, a Lebanese soldier, was killed in a shootout that erupted during a raid on a militant hideout in the town of Bhannine in the northern Akkar region.

Security agencies have been conducting raids in north Lebanon, particularly in Tripoli and Akkar, in search of suspects who have launched attacks on army units or joined hardline groups fighting in neighboring Syria.

Lebanon has seen a string of clashes and explosions linked to the conflict in Syria.

Last month, violent clashes erupted overnight between the Lebanese army and unidentified militants along the border with Syria and left three Lebanese soldiers injured.

In recent months, the Lebanese army has fought several battles against jihadists crossing in from across the restive border with Syria.

The deadliest battle took place last August in the border town of Ersal with jihadists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group and al-Qaeda’s Syria branch, al-Nusra Front.

The Ersal violence left 16 soldiers dead and 85 wounded, while dozens of jihadists are said to have been killed, along with three civilians. Islamist militants withdrew from the town to its outskirts, taking with them 25 captive Lebanese soldiers and policemen, four of whom they have since executed.

In October, Lebanese troops fought deadly clashes with ISIS and Nusra jihadists in the northern city of Tripoli.The fighting left 42 people dead, including 11 soldiers and eight civilians.

ISIS has captured large swathes of land in Iraq and Syria, declaring what it calls a cross-border Islamic ‘caliphate,’ killing thousands and displacing millions in the two countries.

(Al-Akhbar)

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