Fugitive Arrested at Arsal Camp as Aid Enters Town after Roads Reopenedإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
The army arrested Thursday a fugitive at a Syrian refugee camp in Arsal over ties to terrorist groups, as calm returned to the northeastern border town after residents from neighboring al-Bazzaliyeh reopened a vital road they had blocked in the wake of the execution of captive soldier Ali al-Bazzal.
“The Lebanese army raided a camp in Arsal and arrested a person who has ties to terrorist groups,” MTV reported.
Meanwhile, state-run National News Agency said “the town of Arsal is today living a normal life and a calm security atmosphere.”
It noted that communication between the town and its neighbors was resumed after the checkpoint erected by al-Bazzaliyeh residents was removed two days ago.
“Food and humanitarian relief aid sent by international and Islamic organizations has entered the town normally,” NNA said.
“The al-Labweh-Arsal road has been especially reopened to displaced Syrians living in refugee camps, except for fugitives, and the General Security department in Baalbek is facilitating the transactions of dozens of them,” the agency added.
As for the town's outskirts, the army continued its security measures at its checkpoints “against security violators,” NNA said.
“The owners of stone-crushing plants and stone quarries are moving freely and without restrictions between Arsal and the mountainous area of Wadi Hmayyed,” the agency noted.
It also said journalists have been invited to visit Arsal to assess the situation on the ground.
Al-Joumhouria newspaper reported earlier on Thursday that the army was carrying out strict security measures on the town's outskirts and blocking crossings that could be used by terrorists without imposing any “siege” on the village.
A military source stressed in comments that “Arsal is not under any siege and all the roads leading to the town are open... The army is only imposing security measures by carrying patrols to protect its residents from any harm.”
The comments come a day after al-Mustaqbal Movement chief Saad Hariri held the government responsible for ending the “siege” imposed on Arsal and called on the army to restore the state's authority.
The source remarked that “roads which link Arsal with the Bekaa are open,” adding that “the residents of the town can move freely.”
“The threats against the residents of Arsal are old and imposed by the tribal mixture and the increase in tension, but the army is working on eliminating the friction,” the source said.
“The army will not allow any town to impose a siege on another.”
Tensions were high over the weekend following the execution of policeman Ali al-Bazzal by jihadists, who are entrenched on the outskirts of Arsal.
Angry protesters in his hometown of al-Bazzaliyeh blocked roads in the area in order to cut off aid to the outskirts of Arsal, where the servicemen are reportedly being held.
The security force members were captured when jihadists from the Islamic State and al-Qaida-affiliated al-Nusra Front briefly overran Arsal in August, sparking fierce battles with Lebanese troops.
Four have been executed so far, including al-Bazzal over the weekend, and the jihadists have threatened to kill the remaining hostages unless there is a deal to free Islamist prisoners in Lebanon.
Arsal has become a key conduit for refugees, rebels and wounded people fleeing strife-torn Syria.
The Lebanese Army is also carrying out precautionary military operations against posts controlled by gunmen on the outskirts of Arsal and the Syrian Qalamun region.