Naharnet

Qahwaji Says Army Keen on Safety of Arsal Residents

Army chief Gen. Jean Qahwaji said on Thursday that the military was keen on the safety of the residents of the northeastern border town of Arsal, and denied that troops had laid a siege on them.

The state-run National News Agency said Qahwaji visited Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Daryan, who was elected last month, to explain to him “how the army was resolving the crisis in Arsal and the North.”

It quoted him as saying that “the military is keen on the safety and security of our brethren in Arsal.”

“There is no siege on the town of Arsal and its residents,” the general said.

He also stressed that the military was exerting all efforts to guarantee the safety of the Lebanese in all regions without any discrimination.

Jihadists overran Arsal last month and engaged in deadly gunbattles with the army.

The militants from the al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State group also took with them hostages from the army and the Internal Security Forces.

They later killed three of them and vowed to execute more captives if the authorities did not meet their demands.

The battles and the ensuing threats, sparked extra measures by the army in and around Arsal.

It blocked roads on the outskirts of Arsal used by the militants to get their supplies, and carried out raids, arresting hundreds of suspects, including militants who had attacked the army.

G.K.

M.T.


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