BEIRUT

Lebanon News

Kahwagi in rare visit to Arsal border region

Security sources said Kahwagi arrived by helicopter at the Lebanese Army barracks in Labweh amid strict security measures. (REUTERS/Hussam Chbaro)

LABWEH, Lebanon: Lebanese Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi made a rare visit to Lebanon's border region Wednesday, inspecting troops deployed in the Bekaa Valley town of Arsal following last week’s gunbattles with jihadists.

Security sources said Kahwagi arrived by helicopter at the Lebanese Army barracks in Labweh amid strict security measures.

From Labweh, he drove to nearby Arsal, where heavy fighting took place between the Lebanese Army and Islamist militants who overran the town Aug. 2 in the wake of the arrest of jihadist commander Ahmad Imad Jomaa.

In a statement, the Army's General Directorate said the commander inspected military units positioned in Arsal and its suburbs and followed up on field measures taken to preserve security and stability in the region. He also held meetings with the heads of units.

Jihadists loyal to the Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria fought fierce battles with Lebanese troops after the Aug. 2 incursion, before retreating toward the border following a cease-fire deal.

More than 20 security personnel, including 10 soldiers, are missing and believed to be held hostage by the militants.

Kahwagi has vowed that freeing the hostages was the Army’s top priority.

The sources said Kahwagi left Arsal about two hours later.

Meanwhile, Future Movement official in Arsal Bakr Hujeiri said he held talks with a delegation representing Syrian refugees to discuss ways to restore confidence with the local residents following the Arsal battle.

 

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