Those who are demanding a facilitation of the crossing of gunmen from and into Syria have “made the wrong request and knocked on the wrong door,” Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji has said.
In an interview with Al-Afkar magazine to be published Friday, Qahwaji stressed that the army had boosted its deployment in the northern area of Wadi Khaled, which borders Syria, noting that “the military forces are exerting utmost efforts to control the border, prevent smuggling in both directions, and thwart any infiltration attempt.”
During a meeting with Interior Minister Marwan Charbel on Tuesday, U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Maura Connelly “recognized Lebanon’s efforts to provide assistance to Syrians fleeing the violence in their country and she encouraged the Lebanese government to continue its cooperation with the international community and provide for the humanitarian needs and safety of all Syrians who have fled to Lebanon, including dissenters and deserters,” the U.S. embassy said in a statement.
She noted the Lebanese government’s “right and responsibility to secure its borders, and called for the protection of all disarmed Syrians, including members of the Free Syrian Army.”
The U.N. refugee agency has said about 2,000 Syrians had fled to Lebanon in recent days, many from Homs and particularly its opposition stronghold of Baba Amr, which was stormed by Syrian troops last Thursday after a month of bombardment.
According to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, 7,058 Syrians have registered in Lebanon as refugees but that number is expected to rise with the new influx of arrivals.
Qahwaji’s remarks come after the Lebanese army arrested Sunday a group of Syrian gunmen who had entered Lebanese territory via the border town of al-Qaa, seizing a car and a large cache of weapons.
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