BEIRUT: Hezbollah official Ammar Musawi praised the Lebanese army Tuesday for its recent seizure of a Syria-bound illegal arms shipment and urged the authorities to prevent Lebanon from turning into a conduit of destruction toward its neighbor.
Meanwhile, a senior officer in the rebel Free Syrian Army denied in remarks published Tuesday any links to the weapons-carrying vessel seized by the Lebanese Navy Friday.
“For the sake of Lebanon's stability and security, [Musawi] urged [authorities] to exert greater effort to prevent Lebanon from turning into an arena through which the tools of crime cross into Syria, as the involvement of some Lebanese in fueling the situation in Syrian will have negative repercussions on Lebanon,” said the Hezbollah statement.
The Lebanese Army intercepted Friday night a ship in Lebanon's waters. Its manifesto listed metal and the like, but an investigation revealed weapons aboard. The ship intended to dock at Tripoli port in north Lebanon; the weapons, which originated in Libya, were bound for Syria.
Military Prosecutor Judge Saqr Saqr ordered Saturday that the ship's 11-member crew be held for questioning. A statement released Saturday by the Lebanese Army confirmed the arms seizure and said the 11 detained crew members are of various Arab and foreign nationalities.
The FSA denied any links to the vessel.
“We have nothing to do with this ship, which we consider a fabrication by intelligence agencies to embarrass the international community and claim that weapons are reaching the Free Syrian Army,” the FSA officer told Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat.
He said that the ship was being used to claim that the battle between Syrian rebels and the regular army is equal, which would give the latter justification to continue military operations against the Syrian people.
He also said: “If the Free Syrian Army were being armed by Turkey or any Arab country, the situation on the ground would have been different.”
"We, in the Free Syrian Army, have only one source of arms and it is the [Syrian regular] army, some of whose members sell us light weaponry. We know that thus far there has been no international or Arab decision to arm us and we rely on our individual initiatives.”
President Michel Sleiman praised the army Saturday for seizing the ship, saying the measure is part of preserving civil peace and a translation into action of the Lebanese state's decision to prevent the country from becoming an arena of conflict for others or a conduit for settling accounts.
The Amal Movement of Speaker Nabih Berri also hailed the Lebanese Army Monday for intercepting and impounding the ship.
“We thank the army for carrying out its duties and we stress that we stand by its side,” Amal’s deputy politburo chief said during a mourning ritual in Baalbek, east Lebanon.