Lebanon News

Geagea positive on Arsal offensive, while Future Movement blasts Hezbollah

LF leader Samir Geagea speaks in Maarab, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir))

BEIRUT: Hezbollah’s progress in Arsal’s outskirts is a positive development for Lebanon’s domestic scene, Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea said in statements published Wednesday, in a new stance that resonated across local media.

“This will protect villages [in the region] and put them at ease,” Geagea told reporters Tuesday from the LF Headquarters in Maarab, regarding Hezbollah’s liberation of numerous sites previously controlled by Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, a militant group formerly known as the Nusra Front.

The successes against Jabhat Fatah al-Sham have come as part of an ongoing offensive in the outskirts of Arsal to liberate the border region from extremist groups.

Meanwhile, the Future Movement, for the third day in a row, blasted Hezbollah for independently orchestrating the offensive in the northeastern reaches of Lebanon without consulting with the Lebanese state.

"There is no doubt that the battle that Hezbollah is waging in Arsal’s outskirts is the result of an independent decision that didn’t take into consideration the will of the Lebanese state,” Future Parliamentary bloc MP Khaled Zahraman told the Al-Fajr radio station Wednesday.

“Hezbollah’s tactics only serve the party’s external agenda, because the decision to protect Lebanon must be exclusively in the hands of the Lebanese Army, which enjoys political cover from the legitimate authority,” Zahraman said.

The MP also deemed Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah’s speech set for Wednesday evening to be an outright “betrayal” of the Future Movement, “which is committed to legitimacy, institutions of the state, as well as rights and equality."

Touching on Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s visit to the U.S., Zahraman said that the visit shed more light on the existence of a political team that wished to maintain stability in Lebanon, and to preserve the role of the state’s legitimate and constitutional institutions.

“Meanwhile, there exists another team that wishes to bog Lebanon down in war,” the lawmaker added, reiterating the need to spare Lebanon from the fallout of regional developments.

Minister for the Displaced Talal Arslan congratulated Wednesday the Lebanese Army, the security forces and the resistance for their feats protecting the eastern border from militants.

"I congratulate the Lebanese Army’s leadership, officers ... and martyrs, for their high level of professionalism and determination to protect the Lebanese border from rampant terrorism,” Arsal said in a statement. “I congratulate Brig. Gen. Joseph Aoun for his robustness, courage and initiative, which doesn’t surprised us at all.”

His statement went on: "I would like to pay tribute to my brother, Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah, for what has been accomplished on the eastern borders and which will be recorded by history as an epic of heroic resistance fighters who never hesitated to water this land with their blood in defense of unity, dignity and honor.”

Speaker Nabih Berri also expressed his hopes for a positive outcome in the ongoing offensive.

"Arsal is a town that is dear to our hearts and that deserves such an act to liberate its land," Berri said during his weekly meeting with MPs Wednesday. He added that Lebanon would never be stable "as long as part of it is under occupation ... whether in the east, west, north or south."





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