Army vows to stop militants using Lebanon as “safe haven”
Several Lebanese soldiers defected to IS and Nusra Front in recent weeks, causing concern in the army (File/AFP)
Click here to add Al-Nusra Front as an alert
Disable alert for Al-Nusra Front,
Click here to add al-Qaeda as an alert
Disable alert for al-Qaeda,
Click here to add army as an alert
Disable alert for army,
Click here to add Arsal as an alert
Disable alert for Arsal,
Click here to add Jean Qahwaji as an alert
Disable alert for Jean Qahwaji,
Click here to add Lebanese army as an alert
Disable alert for Lebanese army
The Lebanese army on Thursday vowed to stop terrorists from finding a safe haven in Lebanon and held onto the release of the soldiers and policemen taken captive by jihadists in August.
The army leadership said it is “steady and firm in not allowing terrorism to find a safe haven in Lebanon no matter how much sacrifices it makes.”
“The Lebanese from all sects have announced their full support to the army in confronting this danger and their rejection to provide it (terrorism) with an embracing environment after all the atrocities that terrorists committed,” the military said.
The army leadership held onto the freedom of the soldiers abducted by jihadists from al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State group and considered their case a top priority.
The soldiers were taken hostage by fighters from the two terrorist groups when they overran the northeastern border town of Arsal in August. The militants later executed three of them.
The army said it will exert all efforts to secure the release of the hostages and rejected to be subjected to blackmail.
The terrorists have several demands, including the release of Islamist inmates from Lebanon's largest prison in Roumieh.
Army commander Gen. Jean Qahwaji has warned that the militants want to ignite civil war and create a passage to Lebanon's coastline by linking the Syrian Qalamoun mountains with Arsal and the northern district of Akkar.
Adding to the alleged plot of the jihadists, several soldiers have deserted from the army and joined either the IS or the Nusra Front since July.
“The loyalty of a soldier to his institution is a true interpretation of his loyalty to the nation and the people,” said the army statement. “Those who lack such loyalty or were derelict in their duties don't have any place within the ranks” of the military.
It urged troops not to heed the rumors spread by terrorists through social networking sites aimed at negatively affecting their morale.
The military “institution is stronger than ever … and all the Lebanese are hinging on its role in salvaging the nation and preserving its sovereignty and stability,” it said.
The army reiterated that it isolated terrorists hiding on the porous Lebanese-Syrian border and expressed readiness to confront any attempt to infiltrate Lebanese towns and villages.
It also hailed the achievements made by troops in arresting several terrorist networks and seizing their arms and ammunition.