BEIRUT: Lebanon bid farewell to more fallen soldiers Tuesday, as clashes between security forces and jihadist militants in the northeastern Bekaa Valley raged for the fifth day.
Two members of the Lebanese Armed Forces, identified as Capt. Dani Fouad Khairallah and soldier Ali Mohammad Khadaro, were killed during overnight clashes Monday around Arsal.
Khairallah, 30, left behind a newly born daughter, Christina, and a wife, Julie Chahine.
Khairallah and Chahine’s daughter was born less than a month before losing her father to the violence in the border town of Arsal.
“Thank God for Christa,” Khairallah’s WhatsApp status still read Tuesday evening.
A Facebook page titled the “Martyred Hero Commando Captain Danny Khairallah” was created in memory of the late Army captain.
One photo linked on the page shows Khairallah holding his daughter under the caption, “Your father is a martyr Christina.”
Khairallah was born in Beirut on Oct. 14, 1984, and first volunteered in the Army as a cadet officer in 2003 before being promoted to the rank of lieutenant in 2006. In Jan. 2014, Khairallah was promoted to the rank of captain.
Meanwhile, Khadaro’s funeral was held Tuesday in his hometown of Talhmera in Akkar. His coffin, covered in a Lebanese flag, was carried through the town by angry mourners, who shot guns in the air.
Family, friends and fellow members of the Lebanese Armed Forces threw rice on the coffin and shouted pro-Army chants.
He was laid to rest in the town’s cemetery and his family will accept condolences at their home for the next week, according to reports.
In Beirut, hundreds of people, including former President Michel Sleiman, gathered at the Beirut Internation Exhibition and Leisure Center to pay their respects to the family of Lt. Col. Noureddine Jamal, who was also killed during the fighting in Arsal Sunday and laid to rest Monday.
His family, visibly distraught, spent hours accepting condolences from well-wishers. Several members of the Army appeared red-eyed, and some wept openly, dabbing their eyes with handkerchiefs.
Jamal’s nephew, Mohammad, recalled his uncle as a kindly family man. “He loved all his family,” Mohammad said. “He never spoke about politics when he was with us ... He was very proud of his job, and he was very proud of Lebanon.”
“He never cared about any danger,” added his niece Rania.
She said Jamal had been involved in the 2012 Army clashes with supporters of militant Sunni Sheikh Ahmad Assir in Abra.
“He loved his country a lot. He didn’t see that there was any danger in that,” she said.
Another soldier who died over the weekend, Col. Dany Harb, will be mourned at 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Heart of Jesus Church in Badaro.
Some 22 members of the Army involved in the Arsal fighting are missing, while 16 soldiers have been killed and 86 others wounded.