BEIRUT: The Nusra Front circulated a video of Arsal's abducted ISF members Sunday, announcing their alleged defection from the Army and Hezbollah.
“My name is Rami Jamal and I announce my defection from,” stuttered Jamal, before continuing to say “the Lebanese Army and Hezbollah, because they fired at Arsal.”
Roughly sixteen members from the ISF huddled around a tight living room, delivering variations of the same alleged defection message - “I announce my defection from the Lebanese Army and Hezbollah because of their attacks on Arsal and inside Syrian territory.”
It remains unclear why the delivered messages declared defection from the Lebanese Army, despite the fact that the abducted members belonged to Internal Security Forces.
Qaed Hammous who was seated on the floor beside three other officers looked especially disoriented while declaring his “defection from the Lebanese Army and Hezbollah,” focusing his sights on the ground beneath him for the remaining duration of the video.
“[Hezbollah] is using the name of the sect and are firing at civilians in Arsal and the refugee camps, so I announce my defection from Hezbollah,” said another ISF member, Sleiman Diran, said.
Mtanos Mrad announced his defection from the Army and “the Iranian Hezbollah who is firing at civilians in Arsal.”
Ziad Omar announced his defection from the Army, condemning the “terrorist acts carried out by the Army on the people of Arsal and Hezbollah’s attacks inside Syrian territory.”
Following the statements, a man dressed in a tan militant uniform distributed sweets to the abducted members who then flashed smiles at the rotating camera.
Some members quickly ate the sweets, while others grabbed a piece for show, clenching it in their fists.
Hammous, and three other ISF members, had somber expressions, while others sitting nearby also grimaced at the camera after receiving the sweets.
The four minute long video was released by the Nusra Front on social media platforms.
Tensions have risen dramatically in the Bekaa Valley after an Army arrest of a Syrian militant sparked a standoff Saturday afternoon in Arsal, with armed men laying siege to government facilities in the border town, demanding the release of the captive.
After several hours of intermittent gunfire and a tense standoff, militants stormed the police station in Arsal, taking control of the building and releasing several Syrian detainees held there, a security source told The Daily Star. The source said two civilians were killed while trying to prevent the militants from attacking the station.
Armed groups also carried out a concentrated attack on the homes of Arsal residents who the Army protected, and kidnapped a number of Army soldiers and members of the Internal Security Forces Saturday.
Eight Lebanese soldiers were killed in clashes with gunmen that continued overnight in and around the border town of Arsal near Syria, a Lebanese Army statement said Sunday.