BEIRUT: The Lebanese Army raided several buildings in a Beirut neighborhood Wednesday and arrested two wanted suspects, part of a larger security plan to crack down on terror cells operating in the country.
The raid came hours after Prime Minister Tammam Salam chaired a security meeting at the Grand Serail to evaluate the security situation and review ongoing investigations into recent bomb attacks.
Blindfolded and handcuffed, the two suspects were escorted out of a building and into a military vehicle. Minutes later, soldiers and Army personnel withdrew and reopened a street they had blocked.
Soldiers deployed heavily in al-Tariq al-Jadidah and near the Cola roundabout, searching apartments in five buildings in the area, a security source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Daily Star.
They also cordoned off Fleyfel Street, preventing vehicles and passersby from approaching or entering the area during the military operation, which only lasted an hour.
Army chief Gen. Jean Kahwagi said the raids were part of a preemptive security plan to crack down on terror cells, reassuring the Lebanese that the security situation was "under control."
Kahwagi made his remarks before stepping into the security meeting attended by several high-ranking security and judicial officials along with Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk and Defense Minister Samir Moqbel.
Speaking after the end of the lengthy meeting, Moqbel said the attendees discussed the results of the ongoing probe into the recent bombings, primarily the June 24 Tayyouneh suicide bombing and the raid in a Beirut hotel.
Last week, a suicide bomber blew himself up during a security raid at the capital’s Duroy Hotel to evade arrest. His partner, a Saudi would-be suicide bomber, was arrested and confessed to being recruited by the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria to carry out a double suicide bombing targeting a popular restaurant in Beirut's southern suburbs.
In response to a question, Moqbel confirmed that security forces were hunting down would-be suicide bombers and explosive-rigged vehicles.
According to the minister, the attendees underlined the critical security situation and the need for security forces to remain on high alert.
"They also stressed on the importance of increasing efforts to distance Lebanon from the repercussions of regional events,” he said.
Moqbel said Lebanon would combat terrorism and that such a phenomenon was new and "will never find [people who will] cooperate or embrace it."
He said security forces would continue the implementation of the security plan and that a plan would soon be drafted for the capital.
During the meeting, Salam praised their efforts in safeguarding national security, allowing them “to foil planned attacks aimed at destabilizing Lebanon and inciting strife,” Moqbel said.
Authorities have launched a crackdown on militants suspected of coming into the country from Syria with the aim of carrying out terrorist attacks.