Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi attends a graduation ceremony at a military barracks in Beirut's suburb of Fayyadieh, Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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The Nusra Front and ISIS are still holding 27 Lebanese servicemen hostage, Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi said, warning that the jihadists were seeking to gain access to the sea through Lebanese territory.Speaking in an interview published Friday in French daily Le Figaro, Kahwagi said the Army had dealt painful hits to the militant groups in the Arsal area but its action remained restrained because of the hostage crisis.The commander denied accusations that the Army had harassed Syrian refugees in retaliation for ISIS and Nusra Front attacks on troops in Arsal: "We do distinguish between refugees and terrorists".He noted, however, that certain militants sought shelter inside the refugee camps in Arsal, which, he said, explains the use of excessive force against some refugees. Kahwagi said the Army needed to buttress its Air Force to enable it to combat militants in a more effective way.
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