ISIS allegedly beheads a Lebanese soldier

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Friday, August 29, 2014

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) claims it had beheaded one of the 11 Lebanese soldiers it captured earlier this month in the northeastern town of Ersal.

Gruesome images of what appears to be the beheading of soldier Ali Sayyed spread massively on social media on Thursday, sparking unrest in Sayyed’s hometown in the northern district of Akkar.

The Lebanese Army said investigations were still ongoing and that it can neither confirm nor deny the alleged beheading of one of its soldiers. However, Sayyed’s family said it recognized their son in the images of the beheaded corpse.

Sayyed was among the 29 Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) soldiers and Internal Security Forces (ISF) personnel taken by ISIS and al-Nusra Front during clashes with the army in Ersal.

The beheading comes after ISIS threatened in a statement on August 26 to behead one of the Lebanese soldiers if the Lebanese government failed to meet the group’s set of demands, which included the release of ISIS militants from Lebanese prisons, in 48 hours. The group also said that it would kill one soldier every three days if its demands were not met.

The families of the kidnapped soldiers and policemen said in a statement issued on Sunday that the government has not addressed the issue seriously. They accused the government of “neglect” and said that the safety of their sons is the government’s responsibility

Renewed clashes between army and militants

Earlier on Thursday, the LAF clashed with Islamist militants on the outskirts of Ersal, after a military vehicle with five soldiers was ambushed by gunmen.

Hundreds of terrified civilians fled the town of Ersal in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, which hosts tens of thousands of refugees from Syria.

The fighting was still raging late on Thursday afternoon, with the LAF shelling the militants who had taken up positions on the outskirts of Ersal, an AFP correspondent reported.

The military said in a statement that the fighting erupted when an army vehicle with five soldiers on board was ambushed at around 11:00 am (0800 GMT) in the border village of al-Rahwe.

The LAF launched a counterattack in which one of the soldiers was wounded while another went missing, it said.

"A vehicle belonging to the terrorists and equipped with a 23 mm anti-aircraft gun was destroyed," the army said, reporting "dead and wounded" among the assailants.

The LAF dispatched reinforcements to the area around Ersal.

An AFP correspondent saw a wounded soldier being evacuated in a military vehicle as plumes of black smoke billowed into the sky over the town.

Earlier a security official said the fighting started with an assault on an army checkpoint at dawn and rapidly escalated with the army responding with artillery fire and Grad missiles.

On August 2, troops clashed with Syrian rebels in the area after the army detained a leading jihadist.

Several days of fighting killed 19 soldiers, 16 civilians and dozens of jihadists.

It ended with a truce negotiated by Lebanese clerics, but the jihadists withdrew from the area, taking 29 police and soldiers hostage.

More arrests as crackdown on terror continues

The Lebanese National News Agency (NNA) said on Friday that the LAF arrested Mohammed Dib Karnabi, a Lebanese citizen, after failing to provide an army checkpoint near Ersal dispensary with legal identification papers. Arms and munitions were found in Karnabi's Hyundai pick-up truck.

Two Syrian nationals accompanying Karnabi were also arrested over suspicion of fighting against the LAF in Ersal.

The LAF also arrested on Friday Khaled Krambi, a Lebanese citizen, from Ersal while he was transporting “two terrorists,” suspected of being bodyguards of Islamist fugitive Imad Jumaa, NNA reported.

Moreover, six suspected of having links to terror groups have been arrested in the Bekaa village of Suweiri.

(Al-Akhbar, AFP)


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