Lebanese army arrests 13 over ‘terrorism suspicions’
Lebanese national Ali Nayef Rayed was arrested by the army for driving a GMC van without legal documents. (AFP/File)
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The army announced Thursday the arrest of 11 Syrians and two Lebanese in the outskirts of the northeastern border town of Arsal.
“Army forces in Arsal's Wadi Hmeid area arrested Lebanese national Ali Nayef Rayed for driving a GMC van without legal documents,” an army statement said.
“He was accompanied by Lebanese national Jamal Youssef al-Hujeiri and 11 Syrians and they were all held on suspicion of belonging to terrorist groups,” it added.
The announcement comes hours after a mysterious blast killed at least five Muslim clerics during a meeting of the mainly Syrian al-Qalamoun Muslim Scholars Committee in Arsal.
Ever since the Syrian revolt erupted in March 2011, Arsal has served as a key conduit for refugees, militants and wounded people fleeing the strife-torn country.
Jihadists from al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State (Daesh) group are entrenched in the town's outskirts. In August 2014, they stormed the town and engaged in bloody battles with the Lebanese army following the arrest of a senior IS militant.
The jihadists withdrew after a ceasefire, but took with them several dozen hostages from the army and police four of whom have since been executed.