Lebanese army arrests two senior militants

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Published Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Lebanese army arrested two militants who were leading two different armed groups during clashes in Tripoli last month, the state-run National News Agency (NNA) reported Thursday, as the army continues to carry wide-scale raids in search of "fugitive terrorists."

The Lebanese army said in a statement that army intelligence arrested Ayman Abdel Hamid Mhaish and Oussama Yahya Bakhash on Wednesday. Both are suspected of heading militant groups involved in October attacks against the military.

Mhaish is suspected of leading a group that on October 25 attempted to kidnap Lebanese soldiers on the Bhanin bridge in the district of Minieh. The militants, most of whom are now behind bars, then fired a missile on a military vehicle which interfered to rescue the ambushed soldiers, injuring some of the soldiers on board.

Meanwhile, Bakhash is suspected of being the head of another group that ambushed another military vehicle on the Bhanin bridge on October 26, killing a non-commissioned Lebanese officer and a soldier.

Lebanese troops fought deadly clashes in October with jihadists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group and Syria's al-Qaeda branch, the al-Nusra Front, in the northern city of Tripoli. The fighting left 42 people dead, including 11 soldiers and eight civilians.

For the past few months, the military has been increasingly under attack, mainly in northern Lebanon.

The fighting in Tripoli came three months after the army clashed with Nusra and ISIS militants in the northeastern town of Ersal.

The Ersal violence has 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 several dozen captive Lebanese soldiers and police, three of whom they have since executed.



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