The following are a selection of stories from Lebanese newspapers that may be of interest to Daily Star readers. The Daily Star cannot vouch for the accuracy of these reports.
Machnouk to Moscow to discuss arms deal
Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk will travel to Moscow Sept. 18-22 for talks with his Russian counterpart as well as security officials to discuss the purchase of weapons as part of the $1 billion Saudi grant for Lebanon’s security forces.
Sources said Lebanese Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi, in turn, had held a meeting with the Russian ambassador to prepare for a similar visit.
They said Kahwagi would primarily discuss the Russian fund that has been suspended since November 2010, which includes six combat helicopters, a tank battalion, 130 mm caliber guns as well as a large quantity of ammunition.
Security agencies noticed Lebanese going to Syria to join ISIS
Sources told An-Nahar that Lebanese security agencies had noticed the entry of a large number of Lebanese as well as Syrian refugees to Iraq and Syria to join ISIS.
Some of them have returned to Lebanese territories after receiving training to join sleeper cells.
The sources said orders also were given to other recruits, who had the desire to move to Iraq and Syria’s Raqqa, to remain in Lebanon.
The sources estimated the cell members present in Lebanon at 3,000 Lebanese and Syrian, adding that many Syrians take cover in Lebanese towns and construction sites on the pretext of work to remove suspicion.
Salam warns against religious classification
Prime Minister Tammam Salam told As-Safir that intensified efforts were ongoing to secure the release of all the captive soldiers and policemen.
He expressed surprise at the campaigns of sectarian agitation.
“In whose interest is it to classify soldiers according to their Sunni, Shiite, Druze and Christian religions?” he asked. “Where will this act take us?”
“If the gunmen were acting in this manner for their own benefit, do we have to be dragged into these [religious] classifications?” Salam asked.
MP Walid Jumblatt, for his part, called for the speedy trials in the case of Islamist militants to defuse tension.
Jumblatt said Lebanon would have been spared a crisis if judicial authorities had not delayed these trials.
“Why the procrastination and reluctance to conduct a fair trial, taking into account the political circumstances that are completely different [now] after ISIS reached the border,” Jumblatt told As-Safir.
Jumblatt, however, rejected any swap deal with the captive soldiers and Islamist inmates over fears this “could lead to chaos and undermine Army morale.”
Serail meeting launches mechanism for freeing soldiers
Well-informed sources said the meeting at the Grand Serail that was attended by senior judges was a sign that the captors’ demands regarding Islamist inmates in Roumieh prison were part of the discussions.
The sources said the mere holding of the meeting had launched a new dynamic in negotiations, which has frozen threats by ISIS and Nusra Front to kill the soldiers and a beginning of mulling the demands as part of a comprehensive deal to return all 30 hostages.