BEIRUT: A delegation from the Muslim Scholars Committee seeking to arrange a cease-fire between the Lebanese military and Islamist militants to end the ongoing clashes finally arrived in the border town of Arsal late Monday evening.
The delegation, which arrived in Arsal shortly before midnight is headed leading Salafist Sheikh Salem al-Rafei. It remained unclear whether the efforts of the preachers will bear fruit immediately.
The sheikhs had warned that they would not enter Arsal unless a temporary cease-fire is reached.
The preachers from the Committee of Muslims Scholars are expected to begin negotiations with militants aimed at releasing kidnapped Lebanese soldiers as a first step towards ending the violence, a military source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Daily Star.
But the military source emphasized that it was safe for the envoys to enter Arsal since the fighting is now concentrated in the outskirts of the town.
The source added that the military is committed to allow a safe passage for the preachers into the border town.
In light of the outcome of the negotiations, the military would decide the next step, the source said.
Prime Minister Tammam Salam is overseeing negotiations for the cease-fire deal, which calls for the release of kidnapped soldiers and security personnel captured by militants as well as the withdrawal of gunmen from Lebanon, a government source said.
A delegation from the Committee of Muslim Scholars headed to the northeastern town as part of negotiation efforts after a meeting at the Grand Serail attended by the prime minister.