BEIRUT: The Army said Friday it detained eight Syrians in east Lebanon and confiscated their truck, which contained large quantities of arms and rocket-propelled grenades.
As part of its mission to control the border and prevent the smuggling of arms and gunmen along the Lebanon-Syria frontier, the Army said it took action after “spotting a suspicious pick-up truck in the Baalbek-Bekaa region at 2 a.m.” The Army instructed the truck to stop, but it defied the order.
The individuals in the truck pointed their guns at the Army unit, but soldiers were able to surround the vehicle and force the armed men out of the bus.
“[The Army] detained those inside, who turned out to be eight Syrian individuals. Their truck, which was confiscated, contained large amounts of arms, light and medium weaponry, ammunition, hand grenades, B-7 rocket-propelled grenades, electric detonators and communications devices,” the statement said.
The detained men were referred to the appropriate judicial authority.
Since the uprising against the rule of Syrian President Bashar Assad erupted some 18 months ago, the central Bekaa village of Majdal Anjar and the Baalbek town of Arsal have become main destinations for Syrian refugees and activists alike. Geographical proximity and the anti-Assad sentiment in the two villages have turned them into the primary refuge for many.
Majdal Anjar and Arsal, however, have also come under attack by Syrian officials and some Lebanese politicians who allege that it has become a breeding ground for extremist militants, including Al-Qaeda fighters looking to join the battle against the Syrian regime. The two towns are also said to be vital routes for the smuggling of weapons to rebels in Syria.
Several politicians have warned against the 18-month-old unrest in Syria spilling over to Lebanon, which is equally split between opponents and supporters of the Assad rule.