BEIRUT: Distraught family members and hundreds of friends, colleagues and supporters bid farewell Monday to the Army’s 40-year-old Lt. Col. Noureddine Jamal, killed in clashes with Islamist militants in Arsal. A crowd of around 500 people, many in uniform, accompanied the last trip of Jamal’s body, which rested in a white coffin covered with a Lebanese flag. He was laid to rest in the Beirut cemetery of Bashoura.
The funeral march started near Beirut Arab University in Al-Tariq al-Jadideh, where the lieutenant’s casket arrived from the Army’s Military Hospital.
The crowd then walked to the Khashoggi Mosque in Qasqas, where prayers were held for Jamal. Outside, angry and grieving friends shot their guns into the air near the mosque, while his colleagues from the Army carried the coffin to the ambulance.
At the funeral, Army representatives called for national solidarity in a difficult time.
“The important issue is maintaining the unity of Lebanon,” said Brig. Gen. Antoine Halabi in remarks made during the service.
Halabi lauded Jamal’s courage and dedication to his military duty. “It’s a time of sacrifice,” he said, “This is what our officers and soldiers believed in while facing spiteful terrorist groups who tried with barbarism and brutality in dear Arsal to spread sedition and chaos across the country.”
Several politicians and public figures, including Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Basbous, the Future Movement’s Secretary-General Ahmad Hariri and former Prime Minister Saad Hariri sent representatives to the funeral.
After the conclusion of the service, mourners then walked their lost colonel to Bashoura cemetery near Downtown Beirut.
Jamal, who hailed from Al-Tariq al-Jadideh, enrolled in the Army in 1990, and was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 2012. His brother, the retired Brig. Gen. Mahmoud Jamal, is an adviser to Future Movement leader Saad Hariri.
Posters bearing Jamal’s smiling face have already been strung across main roads in Al-Tariq al-Jadideh.
The lieutenant, who is survived by his wife and three children, was formerly a member of the prominent Lebanese football team Al-Ansar, which released a statement mourning him and calling on fans to participate in his funeral.
After the funeral, members of the Lebanese security forces gathered outside Jamal’s family home in Al-Tariq al-Jadideh. Two posters showing Jamal in uniform had been tacked on either side of the elevator leading to his family’s apartment.
Inside, family members dressed in black greeted mourners. A male relative asked The Daily Star to return at a later time to allow the family time to grieve privately. The family will receive condolences at the Beirut International Exhibition and Leisure center Tuesday afternoon, he added.
Jamal was one of 11 troops mourned by the Lebanese Army over the weekend. He was killed in the Army’s clashes with extremist militants in Arsal. Twenty-two members of the security forces are still missing in action.
In addition to Jamal, funerals for Lance Cpl. Nader Yussef, 33, and Lance Cpl. Omar Nhaili, 23, were also held, and hundreds of people gathered in their home city Akkar in north Lebanon.
Yussef – who leaves behind a wife and a child – and Nhaili were carried to a funeral attended by friends and colleagues, and by representatives of the Army chief, the defense minister and the Future Movement.
Zahle also mourned two of its sons: Lance Cpl. Ibrahim Al-Amouri, 30, born in Qobb Elias, and Lance Cpl. Walid Majdalani, 27, born in the village of Kfar Zabad.
Likewise, two soldiers from the Baalbek area were killed in Arsal’s clashes. Lance Cpl. Jaafar Nasreddine, 28, from Al-Ain, and soldier Hussein Hamieh, 20, from Taraya.
Three young Army recruits were also killed by the Syrian militants, with the oldest, Hassan Mehieddine from Fakiha in Baalbek, who was less than 22 years old.
Khaldoun Raouf Hammoud, 19, from Aqabeh in Rashaya and Mohammad Ali Al-Ijl, 21, from Akkar, were also killed by militants in Arsal.