Hariri: Lebanon’s army to carry out operation near Syrian border
:: Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri said on Tuesday the army would carry out an operation in an area of the border with Syria that has been a base of operations for militants including extremist groups.
Speaking in parliament, Hariri described the operation planned for the Juroud Arsal area as carefully studied, the National News Agency reported. The government had given the army the “freedom” to act, he added.
Juroud Arsal, a barren area in the mountains between Syria and Lebanon, has been a base of operations for insurgents fighting in the Syrian civil war, including militants from ISIS and the group formerly known as the Nusra Front.
Speculation has been building that the powerful Lebanese militia Hezbollah and the Syrian military are set to mount a major operation against the insurgents on the Syrian side of the frontier.
Earlier this month, Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said time was running out for Syrian militants along the border near Arsal to reach deals with Syrian authorities, saying it was “high time to end the threat of militant groups in Arsal”.
Hariri however said, “There is no coordination between the Lebanese and Syrian armies”.
Protests surrounding Syrian refugees have been taking place in the capital, after Interior Minister Nouhad al-Machnouk banned any demonstrations on Sunday, citing the need “to preserve security and civic peace.”
Lebanese President General Michel Aoun justified his country’s work on returning the displaced, due to the country’s inability to bear more burdens, warning at the same time of the spread of hatred and incitement between the Lebanese and Syrian people.
The debate taking place in Lebanon is over how to deal with the issue, while Hezbollah and its allies are pushing for direct dialogue with the Syrian regime for return of the displaced. The March 14 bloc, headed by the Future Movement, refuses to negotiate directly with the regime, instead hoping the refugees return through the United Nations.