Plan to rescue Lebanese border town cut off by Syrian troops to take effect Tuesday

Published April 21st, 2014 - 12:14 GMT

A plan to rescue an east Lebanon village that has been cut off from the rest of the country by Syrian troops will go into effect Tuesday, Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk said, defending his cooperation with Hezbollah over the issue.

“The security plan for Tfail village will be launched tomorrow morning with the participation of the Lebanese Army, Internal Security Forces, the General Security and the Red Cross, which will work to evacuate the wounded,” Machnouk said in a press conference Monday.

“We have also contacted Hezbollah and coordinated with the party to evacuate the Syrian families outside the town after efforts to contact the Syrian regime and the opposition proved futile,” he said.

The border village of Tfail was cut off from Lebanese territory after the only accessible road to the Bekaa Valley was seized by Syrian troops as part of the regime’s offensive to root out rebels in the Qalamoun region.

Residents said the village, home to 3,000 Lebanese and around 5,000 Syrian refugees, came under heavy bombardment last week.

Machnouk said that if the plan does not work, he would take the case to the Cabinet and file a complaint to the United Nations Security Council over the besieged village.

The minister, a Future Movement affiliate, defended his coordination with Hezbollah over Tfail and said his priority is managing the humanitarian consequences.

“I do not care about the formalities now, I care about the content [of the security place]... the priority goes to rescuing the families in Tfail,” he said.

“I will resort to any humanitarian, political or security means to offer assistance to the people of Tfail... and it was normal to contact Hezbollah over the issue,” the minister said.

“People there are bearing the burdens of a war that they have nothing to do with and we should not leave them alone.”

On Saturday, Machnouk held a meeting with officials, including Hezbollah’s top security official Wafik Safa, to resolve the village's situation by securing passage for the residents into the Bekaa Valley.

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