Evening Lull Violated in Arsal after Accord Reached on Withdrawal of Gunmen, Release of Soldiers in Captivity

إقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
  • W460
  • W460
  • W460

An agreement was reached on Tuesday evening in the northeastern border region of Arsal after the Muslim Scholars Committee mediated to release all soldiers held captive by extremists militants, and to assure the withdrawal of foreign armed groups from the Bekaa area.

However, hours after the accord was sealed, armed groups violated the truce and attacked army posts in Arsal's Wadi al-Raayan and Wadi Ata regions.

MTV also reported that around 3,000 armed men who were not involved in the fighting expressed readiness to withdraw from Arsal, but noted that gunfire exchange halted their plans.

And the state-run National News Agency said some leaders of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant erected checkpoints late in the evening inside the Bekaa region and prevented residents from leaving the areas despite the “truce.”

The agreement to lull was reached in the evening after the Committee's delegation came under fire in the Bekaa town and it also followed the release of three troops in the afternoon.

Sheikh Salem al-Rafei, a member of the Committee, was safely evacuated from the area after being wounded by gunmen overnight.

The Lebanese Red Cross announced that al-Rafei was taken to a hospital in the Bekaa, adding that he was in good health despite his injury.

Meanwhile, two Internal Security Force members and a soldier were released by the gunmen after being held captive by al-Nusra Front gunmen over the weekend.

Two of the released men were identified as Mtanious Mrad and Khaled Solh.

The three-member Muslim Scholars Committee delegation arrived in Arsal on Monday and reportedly sustained gunshot wounds after their convoy came under fire at night.

Media reports said that al-Rafei was injured in his foot while Sheikhs Nabil al-Halabi and Jalal Kalash sustained minor wounds.

The Muslim Scholars Committee later said that there is no conclusive evidence on the group that targeted the convoy of the delegation.

“We will go on with our initiative no matter what,” the committee said.

It pointed out that al-Rafei needs a surgery after sustaining a severe injury.

LBCI television said that despite targeting the scholars' delegation with fire, negotiations continued in Arsal and al-Rafei listened to militants' demands.

The gunmen expressed their willingness to withdraw from the Bekaa region, and noted that a group of militants had “committed a mistake and was followed by all other factions,” LBCI reported.

Later on, al-Halabi shared the truce initiative with officials at the Grand Serail and contacted army chief General Jean Qahwaji over the same matter.

According to him, the initiative includes the withdrawal of all gunmen on Tuesday evening from Arsal, and releasing the all soldiers and security forces held captive by the extremist groups.

It also includes gunmen handing over their posts in Arsal to the region's figures who will then place them under the army and other legal bodies' authorities.

The Muslim Scholars Committee expressed fear that the developments in Arsal would impact Lebanon “negatively.”

“We are seeking to force gunmen to withdraw from Arsal and the return of Lebanese armed men to Lebanon,” the committee added.

“They are seeking to reach a permanent ceasefire in the area,” Muslim Scholars Committee member Sheikh Ihab al-Banna told LBCI.

Clashes intensified overnight in Arsal with the army mounting a major onslaught against Islamist militants to smother them and force them to withdraw outside Lebanese territories.

Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji stressed that the army will not abide by any truce or ceasefire before knowing the fate of the kidnapped security personnel and civilians.

“The army is determined to free Arsal from the occupation imposed by takfiris and it will not cease to open fire until they withdraw,” Qahwaji was quoted as saying by his visitors.

LBCI reported that the army fortified its presence in the area overnight.

The army announced on Monday that 14 troops were killed and 86 wounded, while 22 are missing in the Arsal fighting.

While Sheikh Mustafa al-Hujairi, a resident of Arsal, said that the 16 ISF members and 19 soldiers “are safe and being held inside Lebanon, not Syria.”

Emile Hokayem, a senior fellow for regional security at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said in comments to Agence France Presse that the situation in Arsal was an inevitable "spillover" from the Syrian conflict.

"As much as the Lebanese like to think that Syria's problems are coming to Lebanon, the reality is that Lebanon sent fighters for and against Assad to Syria... so we shouldn't be surprised that it's coming here."

He said the situation in Arsal could be contained in the short-term, but warned an aggressive army response or the involvement of Hizbullah would anger Lebanon's Sunnis.

The clashes began at the weekend after the arrest of a Syrian man accused of belonging to al-Qaida's Syrian branch Al-Nusra Front.

Following his arrest, gunmen surrounded army posts before opening fire, sparking the clashes.

Arsal is majority Sunni Muslim and broadly sympathetic to the Sunni-dominated uprising next door against Syria's Bashar Assad.

H.K./M.T./ S.D.B.

Comments 37
Default-user-icon Mo (Guest) 05 August 2014, 13:06

Way to go scholars! Keep on pushing peace with these Isis dogs (sorry for insulting dogs) while the army does its job.

Funny how these "scholars" suddenly feel important enough to think they can discuss with these ISIS thugs (sorry for insulting thugs this way). Any supporter of ISIS should pick up their bags and move out of Lebanon

Thumb charlesmartel 05 August 2014, 19:00

Vert well said Mo

Missing helicopter 05 August 2014, 23:22

"As much as the Lebanese like to think that Syria's problems are coming to Lebanon, the reality is that Lebanon sent fighters for and against Assad to Syria... so we shouldn't be surprised that it's coming here."...........
I am sure Mo disagrees with this statement. HA pushed them out of Qalamoun but was unable to keep them from entering Lebanon.

Thumb _mowaten_ 06 August 2014, 11:22

We never denied HA sent fighters, even though we disagree on the reasons for it, but you always denied that fighters were sent to fight against assad.

It is you who have a hard time agreeing with that statement.

Missing imagine_1979 05 August 2014, 13:21

I was thinking the same...
And u may add nothing to do with hezbos involvement in irak also...

Thumb Chupachups 05 August 2014, 23:52

Present sir

Default-user-icon Edy (Guest) 05 August 2014, 13:57

These same so called "Scholars" bigots and religious demagogues are the root cause of Sunni Radicalism. Sure Radical Shii Hizbollah is exacerbating the radicalism of Sunnis in Lebanon, however the Sunni radial Imams and Sheikh must be accountable for teaching Political Radical Islam to it's followers. Long before the emergence of Hizbollah and Radical Wilayat Fakih in Iran, Fundamentalist Wahhabi and Brotherhood Islam was in the making. The bottom line here is that both Sunni and Shii Islam is infested with political garbage and rejection of the other. Adding to that Lebanese politicians are ultimately to be blamed for encouraging and insisting hatred and divisions among the religious sects in Lebanon all in the name of power. Pity the stupid Lebanese public for falling into the trap of sectarianism and divisions.

Thumb charlesmartel 05 August 2014, 19:04

Lebanese politicians needs their "clientelism" business model to be able to secure a seat in the parliament or in the Govt.... it is what they call with a smile while puffing on their cigars... it is... a necessary evil....
They just forget that if you need to have a lunch with the devil... you nee a very very long fork....

Missing hammouds 05 August 2014, 21:33

HeZb a radical Shia? Does heZb slaughter people in the name of religion or for someone being of a specific sect or religion? HeZb would and has killed Shia as well. So does that mean they're against Shias?

Missing hammouds 06 August 2014, 08:51

Flamethrower recognize that I stand with them not against them

Thumb cedre 05 August 2014, 14:13

it did start with ur iranian boyfriends not respecting dissociation policy...

Hizb and LAF now playing Abra 2, sending imams in to negociate then try to kill them...

Default-user-icon joe (Guest) 05 August 2014, 15:26

please stop this violent attack, the lebanease army is guilty of war crimes against poor muslim refugees

Default-user-icon Nicole (Guest) 05 August 2014, 21:52

You idiot, are you one of them?

Missing greatpierro 05 August 2014, 16:20

you should be capable to differentiate rather than putting all non M8 in the same basket. It would be worth your while rather than thinking that all non M8 are Lebanon's ennemies. It is this typical attitude that makes lebanese incapable of agreeing and living together.

Since two days leading figures of M14 and mustqbal have voiced their unconditional support for the army and strongest condemnation against the terrorist and against those politician like Kabbara who supports the terrorists.

It's your call to understand the reality of things.

Thumb ex-fpm 05 August 2014, 16:29

They would prefer the 24 soldiers executed and sit here and pretend they are heroes and patriotic. They love to second guess and their sectarianism comes through loud and clear. If any of these geniuses have a solution, then please come forward. Otherwise, zip it and let the right people do the job.

Missing hammouds 05 August 2014, 21:36

And who are the right people? I want to hear u say it

Thumb EagleDawn 05 August 2014, 21:42

why don't you go negotiate their release ya shatir!

Missing actionmen 05 August 2014, 17:04

The lebanese army should not them terrorist out of lebanon.allowing them to leave means allowing them to get away with the murder of god knows how.many of our soldiers.as for you sab3a ayar,samer hanna was excuted after being dragged out of his heli cockpit,the murderer was a hizbollah terrorist who somehow was put on trial and released in a record of 6 months.if you do not believe me that it was a murder ,you might ask his mum...

Default-user-icon alifbatatha (Guest) 05 August 2014, 17:26

A good Sanni is a rotten dead Sanni.

Thumb cedre 05 August 2014, 18:56

so HIZB tried to kill sunni scholars and is shelling sunni LEBANESE and syrian refugess, meanwhile what is doing Jeannot qahwaji ?

Missing hammouds 05 August 2014, 21:37

Are u crazy? It's ISIS that's committing the acts u speak of

Thumb charlesmartel 05 August 2014, 19:06

Well said but its about time we build one.... google who is Charles Martell

Missing ..karim.. 05 August 2014, 20:53

God bless our Lebanese Army, and down with the FSA-Nusra-ISIS jihadist terrorists!

Missing ..karim.. 05 August 2014, 21:30

Do not negotiate with the jihadist terrorists. Eradicate them at all costs.

Missing hammouds 05 August 2014, 21:31

Cedre. So what? Who cares who's getting the job done as long as it's getting done? And no my friend, coming to Lebanon was an objective for these rebels with or without heZb intervention into Iraq.

Missing hammouds 05 August 2014, 21:32

Or syria

Thumb cedre 06 August 2014, 00:08

hammouds, thanks to stupidly repeating hizbiran propaganda without adding any argument, sure we'll all believe u...

Thumb cedre 06 August 2014, 00:10

Hizbiran violating truce for 3rd time, they cant win in qalamoun so want LAF to do their job...

Default-user-icon IsraeliMan (Guest) 06 August 2014, 00:21

You are now tasting the pain that Israelis had for decades. This is the wrath of G-d on you, and it is just the beginning. Start supported Israel, have the Shia join the Jews with their fight against radical Islam, abandon the dream of killing all Jews and taking Jerusalem, and maybe you'd be spared.

Missing coolmec 06 August 2014, 00:35

Hello M11er
I hope you are doing ok my friend. I also fully agree and strongly support your stance i.e. Lebanese to unite behind our LAF and face these thugs and eliminate them No time for mutual blame we need to unite for the country

Missing coolmec 06 August 2014, 00:37

Please quit glorifying Aoun as the savior and the wise of Lebanon. he is nothing but the cause of our destruction and the presidential vacuum. since you love him that much just make sure that his little brain if any understands that he will never be president

Missing coolmec 06 August 2014, 00:38

Please quit glorifying Aoun as the savior and the wise of Lebanon. he is nothing but the cause of our destruction and the presidential vacuum. since you love him that much just make sure that his little brain if any understands that he will never be president

Missing coolmec 06 August 2014, 00:39

right on M11er

Default-user-icon Vicken (Guest) 06 August 2014, 04:27

Captive soldiers instead of eating homuss and growing their bellies ,the army should train them for the futur instead of just paying them ,the therosist groups isis whatever u guys call them they are not trained well as the army i guess .

Thumb liberty 06 August 2014, 06:41

he is not too obvious

Missing hammouds 06 August 2014, 08:55

Is it really necessary to show the proof? Have u not seen what they're doing in Iraq? Or do u really think they're doing what they're doing in Iraq somehow because of hezbollah? Come on now cedre

Missing hammouds 06 August 2014, 08:57

Ashrafieh ur comment is wrong on so many levels