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State Security Busts Kidnapping Gang Smuggling Syrians to Lebanon

The General Directorate of State Security detained in the eastern city of Zahle on Thursday an abduction gang that is specialized in smuggling Syrians into Lebanon.

The gang reportedly smuggles Syrians into Lebanese territories and kidnaps people in exchange for ransom.

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Cabinet to Discuss Controversial Recruitment of ISF Members

The cabinet will discuss on Thursday the recruitment of around 11,000 member for the Internal Security Forces and its financial cost, despite reservations expressed by the March 8 alliance.

According to al-Joumhouria newspaper, the thorny issue was included on the agenda of the government after an agreement between the rival parties to fortify the number of security members while taking into consideration the sectarian balance.

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Salam Assured that Hizbullah-Israel Clash Would not Lead to War

Prime Minister Tammam Salam has received assurances from Arab and Western diplomats that the clashes which took place between Israel and Hizbullah following an attack on an Israeli military convoy would not lead to a full-fledged war.

Salam's visitors were quoted as saying on Thursday that the Prime Minister, who made contacts with the diplomats after the clashes, received guarantees that the international community will exert every effort to preserve stability in Lebanon.

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Jumblat Warns Lebanon Can't Bear New War, Lauds Hizbullah Retaliation from Syria

Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat stressed on Thursday that Lebanon couldn't endure the repercussions of a new war, expressing belief that Israel can't afford to engage in any battle at this stage.

“Hizbullah acted in a smart manner by retaliating to the Israeli airstrike in Quneitra from Syria and not Lebanon,” Jumblat said in comments published in al-Mustaqbal newspaper.

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Security Council Condemns Death of Peacekeeper, Spain Blames Israel

The U.N. Security Council condemned on Wednesday the death of a Spanish U.N. peacekeeper during the Israeli military's exchange of fire with Hizbullah in a disputed border area.

The Council condemned his death in the strongest terms and offered its deepest sympathies.

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U.S. Urges Restraint after Shebaa Attack, Security Council Holds Urgent Meeting

The United States on Wednesday condemned Hizbullah's deadly operation in the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms as an "act of violence," urging all parties to refrain from actions that could escalate the situation, as France requested an urgent meeting of the U.N. Security Council.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said that Washington did not want "an escalation of the situation."

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Mustaqbal: No Side Has the Right to Usurp Govt.'s Decisions on War and Peace

The Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc stressed on Wednesday that the government alone is responsible for issues of war and peace, adding that the Shebaa operation earlier during the day should remind all Lebanese factions of the importance of preserving stability and security.

It said in a statement after its weekly meeting: “No side has the right to usurp the will of the Lebanese people and replace the constitutional authority of the state that is tasked with making national decisions.”

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Hamas, Islamic Jihad Say 'Heroic' Shebaa Operation is Hizbullah 'Legitimate Right'

Palestinian resistance movements Hamas and the Islamic Jihad have lauded the attack carried out by Hizbullah in the Shebaa Farms on Wednesday, describing it as a “heroic” operation against the Israeli army.

“Targeting the enemy in Shebaa is the legitimate right of the resistance in the face of the occupation's arrogance and hostility,” Hamas said in a statement issued shortly after the assault.

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Lebanon Condemns Israeli Escalation, Says Hizbullah Operation Didn't Violate Blue Line

Prime Minister Tammam Salam condemned Wednesday Israel's military escalation in south Lebanon, as the Foreign Ministry noted that a deadly Hizbullah attack on Israeli troops in the occupied Shebaa Farms did not violate the Blue Line that was demarcated by the U.N. following the 2006 war.

In a statement, Salam stated that “the Israeli escalation on the border with Lebanon after the Shebaa operation might pave the way for dangerous possibilities that do not serve peace and stability in the region.”

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Spanish U.N. Soldier Killed by Israeli Retaliatory Fire after Shebaa Attack

A U.N. peacekeeper from Spain was killed on Wednesday when the Israeli military shelled border areas following a Hizbullah attack that left two Israeli soldiers dead.

A 36-year-old corporal "died this morning during incidents between Hizbullah and the Israeli army in the area of responsibility of the Spanish contingent", the Spanish defense ministry said in a statement.

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