Lebanon News

MP Saqr admits calls over arms with Syria rebels

Future MP Oqab Saqr. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Future MP Oqab Saqr confirmed in remarks published Monday the authenticity of recent audio recordings implicating him in arms transfers to Syrian rebels and voiced readiness to face any potential legal measures against him in the affair.

“Yes. This is my voice and those are my words. I am not in the habit of denying my words or voice and I am not ashamed of what I have done and am doing,” Saqr told pan-Arab Ash-Sharq al-Awsat.

Last week Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar published a three-part series on recordings it obtained wherein the Zahle MP can be heard discussing supplying weapons to alleged Syrian rebels.

“Greetings. Go ahead ... tell me what kind of weapons you want, what are the quantities [you seek]?” Saqr asks his interlocutor, who identifies himself as Abu Numan, in one of the recordings.

“We need around 300 rocket-propelled grenades and 20 launchers. And if it is possible to provide 250,000 Russian rounds, 300 machineguns and some special pieces of arms,” Abu Numan responds.

Saqr, a member of Lebanon’s Future Movement, and the man which Al-Akhbar describes as a leader of a militant group in the Syrian opposition, can also be heard making arrangements for the drop-off of the weapons referred to in their conversation.

“So who will receive [them] and where will the delivery take place? How will the operation take place?” Saqr asks Abu Numan, who replies: “Delivery as usual and it will be divided up ... Abu al-Baraa will be there with the guys and the cars will take them and bring them to Aleppo [north Syria].”

“But we need to do it as fast as possible, because there’s a big need and the shelling is ongoing,” Abu Numan adds.

In the wake of the uprising against President Bashar Assad, Lebanon has adopted a policy of dissociation toward events in Syria. In mid-2012, rival political leaders, who are divided over the Syria crisis, vowed to keep Lebanon neutral from developments in its neighbor.

The Future Movement, a major component of the Lebanese opposition, has repeatedly insisted that its support to Syrians is solely on moral and humanitarian grounds.

In his comments to Ash-Sharq al-Awsat, Saqr also said he was ready to face any potential legal measures in the case.

“I have always abided by the law and I am willing to accept any legal measures and if some want to strip me of my [parliamentary] immunity, let them do so: I am not hiding behind my immunity,” he said.

However, according to Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat, Saqr asked whether others he described as being involved in the Syria crisis were also willing to abandon their legal protection and face trial.

Several media reports surfaced in September that Hezbollah was sending fighters to Syria to support the regime forces. However, the resistance group has denied the allegations.

According to Al-Akhbar, Saqr was acting at the behest of Saad Hariri, Lebanon’s former prime minister and the head of the Future Movement.

In one of the recordings, Saqr, addressing Louay Meqdad – the spokesman for the Free Syrian Army’s Higher Military Council, - says: “Hariri is losing [patience]! He wants to settle [the battle].”

In his comments to Asharq al-Awsat, Saqr said that Hariri had tasked him solely with providing Syrians support at the humanitarian, political and media levels.

“Hariri has asked me to provide Syrians with humanitarian, political and media aid – no more, no less,” said Saqr, who accused Al-Akhbar of waging campaign against him with the aim of distorting the role assigned to him by Hariri.

“The campaign aims at distorting this role,” Saqr said.

He said he would speak publicly on the subject in the near future.

Last month, Saqr said his long absence from Lebanon was due to his work of providing assistance to Syrian rebels. However, Saqr denied any form of military involvement with the rebels and said Hariri asked him to follow up humanitarian issues.





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