BEIRUT: Outgoing Saudi Ambassador Ali Awad Asiri Monday expressed solidarity with the Lebanese Army battling Takfiri militants from Syria in the east Bekaa border town of Arsal, during farewell visits he made to Prime Minister Tammam Salam, Speaker Nabih Berri and former president Michel Sleiman.
“I have expressed sympathy with Lebanon in the face of [security] challenges, and wish for stability and well-being, as well as unity of all political forces, in order to be able to deal with the latest developments on the Lebanese scene,” Asiri said, after visiting Salam.
Asked to comment on the three-day fighting in Arsal in which 13 soldiers, six civilians and 50 militants have been killed, Asiri said: “May God protect Lebanon.”
Coming out of the meeting with Berri, Asiri said he hopes that the “regrettable developments” in Arsal will lead to “closing ranks of all political groups in Lebanon, for the sake of safeguarding Lebanon’s security, stability and sovereignty.”
Asiri’s encounter with Salam came just ahead of an emergency Cabinet meeting, which is set to convene with a single item on the agenda, the security situation in Arsal, where the Army is seeking to rout out militants from Syria’s Al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front. The militants waged attacks against Army positions in Arsal after troops arrested a notorious Nusra Front member, Imad Jomaa, although later Gen. Jean Kahwagi, the Lebanese Army chief stated that the attack was premeditated.
Asiri also bid farewell to former President Michel Sleiman.