BEIRUT: Head of the Lebanese Army Gen. Jean Kahwagi said in remarks published in a local daily Wednesday that the Cabinet’s plan to deploy heavily along the country’s border with Syria aims at denying gunmen a haven, adding that the plan will require an additional 2,000 soldiers.
“The aim of the plan is to plug the gaps used by the armed men as much as possible because it is very difficult to fully and completely control the border – not only in Lebanon but also in other countries,” Kahwagi told As-Safir.
The Cabinet approved a plan Monday to boost the presence of the Lebanese Army along the northern border with Syria. The government’s decision came after Syrian shelling killed two Lebanese in the northern Wadi Khaled border region and in light of repeated Syrian incursions into Lebanese territories.
Kahwagi also said that the plan requires time to be implemented as the Army has to withdraw units from certain locations and redeploy them along the country’s eastern and northern border.
“There is a need for an entire brigade, or 2,000 soldiers, to have a better grip on the border line ... in points of tension,” he added.
He also said that the heavy deployment along the border would meet residents’ demands, saying: “For us, popular cover is more important than political cover.”
Asked about the status of the Army in Akkar after the killing of a prominent sheikh and his companion earlier this year at an Army checkpoint, Kahwagi affirmed that the army is present in Akkar and its units have not withdrawn.
“Those who are promoting [the notion that the Army has withdrawn] are either blind or dreaming, whereas the reality is different,” he said.
Kahwagi added that the military is in the process of beefing up its presence in Akkar so as to restore stability in the area.