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THURSDAY, 24 APR 2014
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Army mulls shooting down Maarab drone
File - LF leader Samir Geagea speaks during a press conference in Maarab, Friday, Sept. 27, 2013. (The Daily Star/Aldo Ayoub, HO)
File - LF leader Samir Geagea speaks during a press conference in Maarab, Friday, Sept. 27, 2013. (The Daily Star/Aldo Ayoub, HO)
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BEIRUT: The Lebanese Army is mulling the possible deployment of anti-aircraft guns to shoot down a mysterious drone that has flown over Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea’s residence in Maarab, caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said Tuesday.

LF MP Antoine Zahra, meanwhile, said the drone would not be allowed to fly over Maarab, north of Beirut, anymore because it would be shot down by guards protecting Geagea’s residence.

The LF informed the Army last week that guards at Geagea’s residence sighted what appeared to be a drone. Last month, the LF had said a drone carried out flights over the Maarab complex for a period of two weeks.

Charbel, citing security reports, said the drone episode was not a joke after it had been sighted with the naked eye.

“Necessary measures should be taken to protect Maarab and anyone who is exposed to an assassination attempt,” Charbel told the Free Lebanon radio station, saying the Lebanese Army must take action to deal with the drone regardless of where it came from.

Asked whether the Army would deploy anti-aircraft guns in Maarab to shoot down the drone, Charbel said it “is among a host of proposals that have been discussed in the past 48 hours.”

Israel is known for sending drones on reconnaissance to south Lebanon to monitor Hezbollah’s positions in the area.

Zahra described the drone incident as “very serious,” saying it was part of preparations to assassinate Geagea after an abortive attempt to kill him by firing at him in Maarab last year.

“The relevant [security] agencies and the Lebanese state must deal seriously with this issue and tackle it as soon as possible,” Zahra said in an interview with Al-Sharq radio station.

He vowed the drone would be shot down if it flew over Geagea’s residence again:

“The drone will not be able to fly [over Maarab] anymore because it will be shot down with light and medium weapons.”

He added it would be better for the Lebanese security agencies to monitor the drone and shoot it down rather than for guards at Geagea’s residence to do so.

March 14 MP Butros Harb and former Internal Security Forces head Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi have also called on the Lebanese Army to take action against the drone that had hovered over Geagea’s residence.

“The frequent unknown flights over Maarab are undoubtedly a serious issue that could be part of preparations for an attack on Maarab and Dr. Geagea,” Harb told the Free Lebanon radio station.

“Therefore, the state and its security apparatuses, particularly the Lebanese Army, which possesses the equipment that enables it to watch, monitor and prevent any attack, must take the necessary measures to protect Maarab from any possible attack.”

Rifi also urged security agencies to take measures to identify the drone, determine its point of origin and mission, and shoot it down using the appropriate means if it turns out to be an enemy aircraft.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 05, 2014, on page 4.
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Story Summary
The Lebanese Army is mulling the possible deployment of anti-aircraft guns to shoot down a mysterious drone that has flown over Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea's residence in Maarab, caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said Tuesday.

"The relevant [security] agencies and the Lebanese state must deal seriously with this issue and tackle it as soon as possible," Zahra said in an interview with Al-Sharq radio station.

He vowed the drone would be shot down if it flew over Geagea's residence again:

Gen. Ashraf Rifi have also called on the Lebanese Army to take action against the drone that had hovered over Geagea's residence.
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