ISF Says Beaten Man in Video Not Involved in Wildfires


The Internal Security Forces on Wednesday denied reports claiming that an arson suspect was arrested Tuesday in connection with the massive wildfires that engulfed the country.

“A video showing a municipal policeman beating up a person has been circulated on social media and reports said that the beaten person was setting up fires,” the ISF said in a statement.

“After an investigation was carried out by the Brummana police station, it turned out that Syrian national H.M., who works at a construction site in the Metn town of Baabdat, had burned garbage consisting of nylon bags, paper and carton in the site’s vicinity, after the constriction site’s owner asked him to get rid of the material,” the ISF said in a statement.

“Municipal police arrived on the site and the flames were doused,” the ISF added, noting that “two policemen beat up the worker after he tried to escape.”

“H.M. was arrested for burning trash and entering the country illegally, as the two municipal policemen were released on bail at the request of the competent judicial authorities,” the ISF said.

Wildfires spread through parts of Lebanon on Tuesday after forcing some residents to flee their homes in the middle of the night, while others were stuck inside.

A heat wave in the region coupled with strong winds intensified the fires that began a day earlier in mostly pine forests around the country and three provinces in neighboring Syria. A volunteer firefighter was killed and several people were injured in the fires -- among the worst to hit Lebanon in years.

Fire crews were overwhelmed by the flames in the Mount Lebanon region early Tuesday, forcing the Interior Ministry to send riot police with engines equipped with water cannons to help. Two small aircraft were sent from the nearby Mediterranean island of Cyprus to help put out the flames.

The U.N. peacekeeping force UNIFIL also dispatched crews and firefighting vehicles.

Prime Minister Saad Hariri said if the fires turn out to be intentional those behind it "will pay a price." President Michel Aoun and Hariri said that an investigation will be opened to know what caused the fires.

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