BEIRUT: The parliamentary Future bloc Tuesday condemned the “treacherous attack” by Islamist militants on the northeastern town of Arsal, saying it targeted the Lebanese Army and security forces.
The bloc, which held its weekly meeting chaired by former Prime Minister Saad Hariri at his Beirut Downtown residence, blamed Hezbollah’s intervention in the war in Syria for security ramifications of the conflict next door, threatening national unity and civil peace in Lebanon.
“The bloc discussed the outcome of the regrettable and painful incidents that happened in the town of Arsal and its region in the past few days. While welcoming the town’s liberation from the kidnappers, the bloc considers that the lessons of Arsal should be learned very well by the Lebanese,” the bloc said in a statement after the meeting read by MP Hadi Hobeish.
“In addition to the occupation of Arsal and attacking its residents, this treacherous attack is rejected and condemned because it also targeted the Lebanese Army and legitimate security forces which are the country’s protectors and preventive shield,” the statement said.
Referring to Hezbollah’s arms and its involvement in the Syrian fighting, it said: “The militias’ arms or the weapons of forces to defend and protect sects play a role in inviting all kinds of problems to Lebanon. Experience has confirmed that Hezbollah’s fighting in Syria has brought to Lebanon disasters, evils, military intervention and security ramifications that threaten national unity and civil peace.”
At least 19 soldiers have been killed in five days of ferocious fighting between the Lebanese Army and Al-Qaeda-affiliated militants in and around Arsal that erupted after the militants overran the town on Aug. 2, in the most serious spillover of Syria’s civil war into Lebanon.
Another 19 soldiers are still missing, along with an unknown number of policemen, believed to be held by the militants. More than 60 militants and 42 civilians were also killed.
Saluting the martyrs from the Army and security forces who fell during the Arsal fighting, the Future bloc said securing the release of the captured military and security personnel should be at the top of national priorities.
The bloc welcomed Hariri’s return to Lebanon last week after more than three years abroad for security reasons and praised his $15 million donation for Arsal’s reconstruction. It also commended Saudi King Abdullah’s $1 billion grant to bolster the capabilities of the Lebanese Army and security forces in their battle against terrorism.