BEIRUT: The Arsal Municipality said Thursday that the northeastern town was no place for jihadist groups, voicing its support for the Lebanese Army against any possible attacks.
“We hosted our refugee brethren fleeing death in Syria, but we do not desire for our land to turn into a field in which armed groups infiltrate under the pretext of a revolution and pose a danger to us and refugees in Arsal,” the municipality said in a statement. “The groups are carrying out thefts and intimidating the residents. Whoever wants jihad for the sake of Syria, they should go to the open front in Syria.”
Located near the porous border with Syria, Arsal has become home for thousands of Syrians fleeing the crisis in their country, with media reports saying militants have also taken refuge in the town.
Arsal and the area around it are largely Sunni, and locals sympathize with the Sunni-led uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The town has been a frequent target of Syrian rockets, with the Syrian regime arguing that it was attacking militant groups.
“We have hosted some 120,000 Syria refugees in our homes and hearts, and we seek to provide them with needed shelter in this difficult phase despite the huge burden on the town,” the municipality said.
It also affirmed its support for the Lebanese Army and its efforts to maintain security in the town and on the border.
“We, the residents of Arsal, accept no attack on our Army and we stand hand in hand against whoever desires to do so. The refugees have also expressed similar sentiments,” it said. “Any attack on the Army is an attack on us and the refugees in Arsal.”