Another Soldier Reportedly Defects to Nusra after One Says Joined 'Jihadists'

Another Lebanese soldier has defected to al-Nusra Front, media reports said on Friday evening, only hours after the group published a video in which the soldier Mohammed Antar announced that he had "joined the jihadists."

"The soldier Abdullah Ahmed Shehadeh, who hails from the Akkar town of Mashha, has defected to al-Nusra Front," al-Jadeed TV reported, noting that he was a member of the Fifth Intervention Regiment.

"He telephoned his family to inform them that he has joined al-Nusra Front and his family is trying to communicate with him to convince him to return," al-Jadeed said.

As Safir newspaper also reported the defection of "the soldier A. Sh., who hails from Akkar's Mashha."

Earlier on Friday, al-Nusra Front, al-Qaida's Syria affiliate, published a video showing a Lebanese army soldier announcing that he has defected to the extremist group to “defend the Sunni community” and in protest at Hizbullah's “practices.”

“I'm the soldier Mohammed Antar from the Rafik Hariri International Airport's guard platoon. I announce my defection from the Lebanese army which is supporting the tyrants and defending the 'party of Satan' (Hizbullah),” the soldier says in the brief video.

“I have joined the ranks of the jihadists in al-Nusra Front, who are fighting … to defend the Sunni community,” he added.

Antar then accuses Hizbullah of “killing” army troops to “frame the Sunni community” during the 2013 battle with Ahmed al-Asir's group in Abra and claims that the army sided with “Jabal Mohsen's people when they were shelling Bab al-Tabbaneh” in Tripoli.

He also accuses the army of “practicing injustice against civilians and Syrians in Arsal,” urging “Sunni young men to defect from the tyrant (military) institution.”

Al-Nusra had earlier on Friday announced Antar's defection on twitter and published a photo of him.

TV and radio stations meanwhile said that Antar hails from the area of al-Zahriyeh in the northern city of Tripoli.

LBCI quoted a security source as saying that a search warrant has been issued against him, noting that he was not on duty when he escaped.

The first time a Lebanese soldier defected to the Nusra Front in neighboring Syria was in July.

Corporal Atef Mohammed Saadeddine claimed in a video that his move came as a result of the injustice against Sunnis in Lebanon.

Islamists in the country claim that Sunnis are facing harassment by the army, which they accuse of working under the command of Hizbullah.

The Shiite party has sent thousands of fighters to Syria to help the regime of President Bashar Assad against the rebels fighting his troops.

Hizbullah members have engaged in bloody gunbattles with al-Nusra Front, the Islamic State group and other Syrian opposition fighters in Syria and the border region with Lebanon.

The jihadist groups took several Lebanese soldiers and policemen hostage in August and executed three of them.


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