BRITAL, Lebanon: The Lebanese Army and police conducted a series of raids Tuesday in the Bekaa Valley town of Brital on the first day of a security campaign in the region, arresting three and confiscating stolen property.
The raids, launched in the early hours of the morning, targeted eight houses belonging to individuals with arrest warrants, security sources said.
The operation was launched a day after major political figures in the area backed the long-delayed security campaign to arrest fugitives in the region.
Talks were held Monday between Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and a delegation of Bekaa Valley clan leaders at Berri’s Ain al-Tineh residence.
“Berri’s Monday meeting secured the public’s support for the security campaign against the criminals,” a security source said.
Following the meeting, the speaker announced that the Army would be deploying to the Bekaa Valley to improve security in a region known for its lawlessness with over 30,000 active arrest warrants.
On the first day of the crackdown in the region, operations were confined to the town of Brital, home to some of the country’s most-wanted criminals.
The Army confiscated seven cars and 22 kilograms of cannabis from the garage of Souheil Haydar Mazloum.
Mazloum, who is wanted on several arrest warrants, was arrested by the Army without incident.
“Four of the seven confiscated cars were reported stolen in the past few months,” the source said.
The Army also arrested two wanted men from the Tlais family in Brital.
Monday’s meeting between Berri and clan leaders was meant to lay the ground work for the long-awaited security crackdown in the region.
Some feared that without the support of the prominent families, the campaign could backfire and lead to a confrontation between the Army and residents.
Sources said that Hezbollah and Amal Movement’s political support of the crackdown, built through a number of meetings with security officials in the past few weeks, will also have positive effect on the security plan.
But the mayor of Brital remained cautious following Tuesday’s raids and said that development projects should accompany the security measures for the campaign to have a real impact.
“We have to wait to see whether the development projects for the area that Berri announced would accompany the security crackdown in the coming weeks,” said Mayor Abbas Ismail, who is supported by Hezbollah’s former secretary-general Sobhi Tufeili, a staunch critic of current Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah.
The campaign comes after a series of high-profile kidnappings in the region and on the heels of a successfulcampaign led by the Army in Beirut’s southern suburbs.