Lebanon News

Syrian army detains Lebanese General Security members

The Bqayaa border crossing, the only official border crossing in the Wadi Khaled region, north Lebanon.

BEIRUT: Syrian soldiers briefly kidnapped two members of Lebanon’s General Security after firing at their offices in the north of the country Monday, Lebanese security sources said.

The incursion came after a rocket was fired from Lebanon into Syria, wounding two Syrian border police, according to General Security. The cross-border incursion prompted President Michel Sleiman and Prime Minister Najib Miktai to condemn the incident, describing it as a breach of sovereignty, international laws and cooperation between the two countries.

Syrian soldiers briefly abducted the two members of Lebanon’s General Security in the morning at the country’s Bqayaa border crossing, where they fired randomly at offices belonging to General Security and the joint Lebanese Army task force, security sources said on condition of anonymity. No Lebanese were wounded in the attack.

The Syrian soldiers, who crossed 100 meters into the country and stayed in Lebanese territory for 30 minutes, warned their Lebanese counterparts not to allow armed men to shoot at Syria from the area and threatened to escalate their measures in the future should their instructions not be met.

The offices as well as two cars were damaged in the incident, the sources said.

A General Security statement reported that the Syrian army was pursing gunmen who had fired a rocket into a Syrian customs center, wounding two officers.

Local officials told the AFP armed men riding a motorcycle shot a rocket toward the Syrian village of Msherfe, prompting the counter-attack from the Syrian army.

“The violation by the Syrian military unit of the Lebanese borders and the detention of members of the Lebanese General Security and their subsequent release is unacceptable and violates international laws and norms on the one hand and surpasses the coordination between the two countries along the borders [on the other],” Sleiman said, according to a statement from Baabda Palace.

The president also said he hoped that the necessary probes are launched to identify those responsible in the incident in order to prevent a recurrence of such acts “and out of keenness not to disturb the bilateral ties [between Lebanon and Syria] based on mutual respect for sovereignty and independence.”

Interior Minister Marwan Charbel also condemned the incident and said the Cabinet should discuss the violation during its upcoming session.

“The two General Security members are with us after the Syrian side released them and we should discuss this incident in Cabinet,” Charbel said.

Commenting on the day’s event, the U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly said he had no information on the incident but that U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon’s 19th report on the implementation of UNSCR 1701 addressed the “general issue of the importance of all parties respecting Lebanon’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and specifically called on Syria to respect the border.”

In a statement following his meeting with Foreign Affairs Minister Adnan Mansour, Plumbly also said the report stressed that “even where there was uncertainty as to the precise delineation of the border, there could be no justification for the killing or abduction of citizens.”

In a statement, the Kataeb party calling for the withdrawal of the Lebanese ambassador to Syria from Damascus to protest the violation.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 03, 2012, on page 1.




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