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Qahwaji: We Seek to Prevent Lebanon from Becoming Center to Create Unrest in Any Arab State

Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji noted on Thursday that the ongoing political tensions in Lebanon will not affect the army's performance, which distances itself from the political and sectarian divisions in the country.

He stressed the military institution's role during "the sensitive phase the country is going through, especially regarding maintaining the peace and defending its southern border from Israeli attacks."

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Search Procedures at Northern Border Intensified to Thwart Smuggling

Lebanese army and Internal Security Forces patrols intensified search procedures at Lebanon’s border with Syria in Akkar in an effort to thwart smuggling, reported the National News Agency on Thursday.

Witnesses informed NNA that the procedures were intensified along the al-Kabir River where Syrian border guards opened fire at individuals, who turned out to be smuggling gas across the border.

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Geagea Says Kidnapping of Foreigners Sign that ‘Illegitimate Arms’ Hinder State Establishment

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea stressed on Thursday that the abduction of the seven Estonian tourists is a clear sign that “illegitimate arms” are hindering the establishment of a real state.

In remarks to a delegation of students from the Lebanese University, Geagea wondered whether it was natural for foreigners to be kidnapped in the country 21 years after the end of the civil war.

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AMAL, Hizbullah to Address Illegal Construction as 2 People Killed in Clash over Violations in Tyre

Two people were killed and others wounded in a clash with armed forces as the latter were thwarting illegal construction in the southern city of Tyre.

The National News Agency reported on Thursday that residents prevented the security forces from performing their duty, which led them to open fire, killing a Palestinian Wissam al-Tawil and Lebanese Ali Nasser.

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Mustaqbal Denies Link to Tripoli Rally as Hizb ut-Tahrir Remains Adamant on Holding Demo

Al-Mustaqbal movement denied on Thursday that it was involved in calls to hold a demonstration in support of the Syrian people in the northern port city of Tripoli.

The movement said in a statement that some media outlets and politicians were seeking to accuse al-Mustaqbal of involvement in the invitations for a demonstration against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime on Friday.

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Preliminary Deal on Lineup Brings Hope of Cabinet Formation after Holidays

A preliminary agreement has been reached between the different parties of the March 8 forces amid hopes that more efforts would be exerted in the coming days despite Premier-designate Najib Miqati’s private visit to London.

Pan-Arab daily al-Hayat quoted March 8 leaders as saying in remarks published Thursday that consultations between Miqati and Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun through the mediation of Hizbullah led to a “semi-deal.”

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ISF 'Thoroughly Examines' Video of 7 Estonians, Rifi Doubts Abductors are after Ransom

Internal Security Forces chief Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi said the ISF was “thoroughly examining” the online video posted on YouTube in which seven Estonian tourists, who were kidnapped in the Bekaa valley on March 23, pleaded for help.

Rifi told As Safir daily in remarks published Thursday that the ISF was studying how the content of the video could help in the investigation. A security source believed that the video was posted by a professional person to prevent police from tracking its source.

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Report: Israel Pressured U.S., France into Halting Military Assistance to Lebanon

Israel confirmed that both the U.S. and France suspended deals that are meant to provide assistance to the Lebanese military, over fears that the munitions would fall into the hands of Hizbullah if it controlled the new government, Israeli newspaper Maariv reported.

“It took a lot of effort to convince Washington… we made it clear that in a scenario where Hizbullah controls the Lebanese government, the arms will endanger Israel,” a high-rank Israeli official told the daily.

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Italy Seeking to Reduce Troops in Lebanon

Italy wants to reduce its military deployment in Lebanon and Afghanistan and to end its presence in Kosovo following major budget cuts, Defense Minister Ignazio La Russa said.

"There are some budget requirements that are pushing us to reduce, as expected, our presence in international military missions," La Russa said Wednesday, adding that Italy would act in accordance with its foreign partners.

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Report: Israel Fears Kidnap Plots by Hizbullah Abroad

Several warnings received by Israeli security agencies indicate that Hizbullah and Hamas will seek to abduct Israelis vacationing in the Mediterranean area, Haaretz daily reported on Thursday.

The warnings prompted the Counter-Terrorism Bureau to issue a travel alert on April 10, before the week-long Jewish Passover holiday, which began on Monday, the Israeli newspaper said.

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