1 Killed as Army Arrests Suspected Terrorists in Arsal, Tripoli Raids

The Lebanese army arrested on Thursday suspected terrorists during raids it carried out on Syrian refugee encampments and residences in the northeastern border town of Arsal and the northern city of Tripoli.

One assailant was killed and several others were injured when the army opened fire on them in Arsal for setting fire to tents in refugee encampments, said the army.

The military arrested scores of Syrians and Lebanese, including four gunmen belonging to al-Nusra Front, during the raids in Arsal, said the state-run National News Agency.

They are suspected of involvement in recent attacks on the army, it said.

Later on Thursday, the Army Command issued a statement saying 22 people were arrested in Arsal's vicinity “on suspicion of belonging to terrorist groups that took part in the fighting against the army.”

“36 others were held for entering Lebanon illegally and not possessing any identification documents,” the statement added.

“The detainees are being interrogated under the supervision of the relevant judicial authorities,” it said.

The raids sparked a demonstration by Syrian refugees, who raised the Islamic State group flag near the Arsal municipal building.

The Muslim Scholars Committee also called for two emergency meetings to be held simultaneously at 3:00 pm in Beirut and the Bekaa to address the army's measures.

Arsal has been the battlefront of the Lebanese army in its fight with jihadists since they crossed the border from Syria and overran the town in early August. The militants from al-Nusra Front and the IS kidnapped troops during their withdrawal.

Several soldiers and policemen remain in captivity while three have been executed.

Last Friday, attackers detonated a roadside bomb against a passing army truck in Arsal killing two soldiers and wounding three.

In a related development, Military Prosecutor Judge Saqr Saqr charged three detainees with belonging to an armed terrorist organization, kidnapping soldiers and participating in the fighting against them in Arsal.

The charges also include the possession of arms and explosives.

Saqr referred the suspects to the first Military Examining Magistrate Riyad Abou Ghida.

Also Thursday, the army carried out raids on the residences of Syrian refugees in Tripoli's Abi Samra district.

It said in a communique that it arrested 20 suspects and seized arms, ammunition and military gear from their possession.

The military said late Wednesday that militants opened fire at army posts in Bab al-Tabbaneh, Syria Street and al-Bisar in Tripoli.

One soldier was lightly injured in his leg, it said.

The soldiers at the three posts fired back at the militants and chased the gunmen to arrest them, the communique added.

On Tuesday, a soldier was killed in a similar attack in Tripoli.

Meanwhile, families of troops abducted by jihadists pressed on with their road-blocking protest in the vital Dahr al-Baidar area that links the Bekaa governorate to the Mount Lebanon region and the capital Beirut.

They had earlier in the day pledged that they would reopen it at 6:00 pm following a mediation by Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat.

“We won't reopen the road because our sons are in danger and we apologize to Walid Beik Jumblat,” a spokesman for the families said.

“We call on the government, if it still exists ... to take a brave decision,” he urged.

“We call on the Lebanese people to stand by us and we're heading towards further escalation,” the man added.



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