Lebanese army extends security operation in Bekaa Valley

Published February 18th, 2015 - 06:07 GMT

A man was shot and wounded during an army raid in a village south of Baalbek Tuesday, as security forces expanded the crackdown on fugitives, detaining 11 for minor offenses.

Separately, a senior army source said that a woman detained Monday by the army in the Bekaa Valley did not turn out to be the sister of a Nusra Front commander.

A man from the Younes family was wounded during a shootout between a Lebanese army unit and outlaws in the village of Douris, south of Baalbek, a security source said.

The man was shot in his stomach, but his wounds were not life-threatening, the source added.

The circumstances of the incident were unclear. The source said the army came under fire while carrying out the raid. Younes was shot as troops returned fire, the source added, suggesting that Younes may have been mistakenly hit.

A joint force comprised of the army, Internal Security Forces and General Security entered Baalbek for the first time early Tuesday in the sixth day of raids since the launch of the security plan.

Police fanned out in the Baalbek neighborhoods of Hay al-Sharawneh and Tal al-Abyad, as General Security units erected checkpoints on every major street in the city.

A security source had told The Daily Star that Hay al-Sharawneh was home to wanted criminals from Jaafar and Wehbe clans.

The army released a statement Tuesday saying it had arrested nine Syrian nationals for illegally crossing the border into Lebanon, and two Lebanese. One of the two citizens was wanted for shooting in the air “on many occasions.”

The army said its troops made the arrests in Hay al-Sharawneh and Tal al-Abyad.

The army also said it confiscated 50 kilograms of drugs and five unregistered cars, in addition to some light weapons and ammunition.

The joint force launched its security plan for the northern Bekaa Valley Thursday to pursue thieves and drug lords.

Security forces are also searching for members of the Jaafar clan behind the killing of a Christian couple last year in the Bekaa Valley town of Btedaai.

Tuesday’s arrests bring the number of fugitives and suspected criminals rounded up since the launch of the security plan to 148.

The Bekaa Valley security plan comes around a year after the government of Prime Minister Tammam Salam cracked down on militia leaders in Tripoli who engaged in rounds of fighting between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad over the past years.

Meanwhile, a senior army source said that the woman arrested with her son at an army checkpoint in the Wadi Hmayyed area of Arsal was not the sister of Abu Malek al-Talleh, the Nusra Front’s commander for the Qalamoun region.

The arrest of Talleh’s relatives could have served as a major bargaining chip for Lebanon in the negotiations to release 25 Lebanese servicemen held by the Nusra Front and ISIS in the outskirts of Arsal.

The two groups captured the security personnel during battles with the Lebanese army in the northeastern town last August.

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