BEIRUT: ISIS has become a “giant” that is a danger to every party in the Middle East, Speaker Nabih Berri said, while welcoming increased efforts to “downsize” the Islamist group that has seized large swaths of Syria and Iraq.
“In an unnatural way, it grew and became a giant in Iraq and took control of 160,000 kilometers there, 15 times the size of Lebanon,” An-Nahar quoted Berri as saying. “Despite its size, it is now being downsized after needed elements were made available to destroy it because it has become a danger to every party.”
The speaker said that the “organization was just like Nusra Front, the Islam Army and other Islamist factions active in Syria and among those who make appointments for breakfast or lunch [in heaven].”
In separate remarks to Al-Joumhouria, Berri also said that Lebanon would “reap positive” results from recent developments in Iraq.
The U.S. military began airstrikes against ISIS locations in Iraq last week, encouraging Iraqi and Kurdish forces to launch operations to drive the militants out of the country.
According to An-Nahar, Berri was surprised that the U.N. and its Security Council had remained silent over the threat that ISIS posed.
“ ISIS has no recognition of borders and seeks to infiltrate Lebanon ... which means they are serious in implementing their project and that [ISIS] would repeat the Arsal scenario if it had the chance,” he said, referring to five days of clashes earlier this month that pitted the Lebanese Army against militants from Syria including ISIS fighters.
The Arsal clashes raised fears in Lebanon of an imminent ISIS threat, prompting the country's leaders to stand united in their support for the military as it combats terror in Lebanon's border region.
“This challenge requires a national review and for rivals to abandon their political differences over ISIS and support the Army and security forces.”