BEIRUT: Future Movement will declare an initiative Monday to find a solution out of the crisis in the eastern town of Arsal, Future MP Atef Majdalani said Sunday.
“We will declare an initiative out of Arsal’s crisis following a meeting with Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi tomorrow,” said Majdalani, referring to tension in the area, triggered by a conflict between residents and the military last week.
Two Lebanese officers, Sergeant Ibrahim Zahraman, 32, and Captain Pierre Bashalani, 31, were killed in an ambush by gunmen in Arsal in what appeared to be a retaliatory operation against the Army after Military Intelligence personnel detained Khaled Hmayyed.
Hmayyed, according to the head of the Military Intelligence Brig. Gen. Edmond Fadel, was wanted on several terror charges and a member of Al-Nusra Front, an Islamist group fighting alongside the rebels in Syria and affiliated with Al-Qaeda.r
The incident drew a number of reactions from different Lebanese groups. While the Future Movement seemed to be in support of Arsal residents, the Hezbollah-led March 8 coalition fiercely condemned the clash with the Army and called for tight security measures in the region.
Majdalani’s comments came as a Future delegation visited Arsal Sunday and called for a fair and transparent investigation into the incident.
The delegation included MPs Bassem al-Shab, Jamal al-Jarrah, Amin Wehbi and Assem Araji.
Speaking on behalf of the delegation, Majdalani said a transparent investigation must be launched into the case.
The lawmaker said that the town has been neglected by the authorities for long, which has led to strained ties with the state.
“We are trying to resolve this problem,” he said.
Meanwhile, Arsal’s mayor reiterated the request of the town's residents for Army chief Gen. Jean Kahwagi to hear the two versions of the story.
Following the incident, Arsal residents claimed that the army unit wore civilian uniform, and that they were unaware they were soldiers. However, amateur video footage aired on the LBCI television channel showed the slain soldiers in their military suits.
The Army has set up checkpoints at Arsal's entrances and held several people involved in the ambush.
Military Prosecutor Judge Saqr Saqr was tasked with launching an investigation into the incident.
The LBCI television channel said Sunday that Saqr will issue charges Monday against almost 30 people involved in Arsal clashes.
Controversial Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir, who was on a visit to Tripoli Sunday, also said he was suspicious about the incident and called for an investigation into the case.