Lebanon News

South security council meets amid intense fears

File - Lebanese soldiers atop armored vehicles patrol the southern city of Sidon, Wednesday, May 22, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)

SIDON, Lebanon: The South Lebanon Security Council is slated to discuss an urgent security-related matter, which has yet to be disclosed in detail, during an extraordinary meeting Thursday at the government serail in the southern city of Sidon.

The sudden meeting is the second to be held in less than two weeks. The council held its last regular meeting on Jan. 16.

Security sources told The Daily Star that “the meeting was fast-tracked due to an urgent and pressing security issue,” adding that “discussions about it can’t be delayed, especially amid rising security concerns with respect to terrorist attacks and the possibility that they will be carried out in other regions in the country [than the Beirut southern suburbs].”

The sources said that more than one security agency received information that cars had been stolen in the southern region, raising fears that they could potentially be used in terrorist attacks. The sources added that the Army and the security forces in the south have been circulating the license plate numbers of certain stolen vehicles in order to pursue them jointly.

During the upcoming meeting, the sources said the security council would discuss urgent issues related to Syrian refugees in the southern city and its outskirts.

The meeting will also touch on the situation in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh and ways to boost cooperation between the Palestinian security forces and the Lebanese security agencies, in order to soothe tensions between the camp and surrounding neighborhoods.

Participants in the meeting will be briefed about the recent arrests of supporters of fugitive Salafist Sheikh Ahmad Assir.

The Army and security forces have recently intensified their presence in the neighborhoods of the southern city and its outskirts, namely around public buildings and commercial centers.

The security forces also added more checkpoints along the city’s main streets, the eastern highway, the coastal road and the road leading to the serail.

Personnel manning the checkpoints examined the license plate numbers of the cars entering the city, and asked drivers for their ownership documents in a bid to pursue the stolen vehicles.

Separately, the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon held its regular tripartite meeting with senior officials from the Lebanese and Israeli armies to discuss several outstanding issues.

According to UNIFIL, the meeting touched on the implementation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, including the situation along the Blue Line, air and ground violations, the ongoing marking of the Blue Line and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the village of Ghajar.

Maj. Gen. Paolo Serra commended the parties for “their positive engagement and cooperation with UNIFIL in maintaining peace and security in the area of operations and for their continued commitment to the cessation of hostilities.”

“I am very pleased with today’s constructive discussions and I was encouraged by the parties’ commitment to maintaining the prevailing stability along the Blue Line,” Serra added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 30, 2014, on page 3.




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