Lebanon's Hariri back as army battles Syria jihadists

2014-08-08 08:10:23 | Al Muslim News
Lebanon's Hariri back as army battles Syria jihadists

 

Lebanon's leading Sunni politician Saad Hariri returned from self-imposed exile today on a trip to bolster the country's army as it battles jihadists in the latest spillover from Syria's war. Hariri's visit, his first since 2011, comes after open conflict between the army and jihadists on the border with Syria killed 17 troops and left 19 kidnapped. The former prime minister arrived after announcing earlier that Saudi Arabia, one of his chief allies, had pledged USD 1 billion to shore up the army and security forces against jihadists. On Wednesday, a day after announcing the funding, Hariri said he would consult with Lebanon's Prime Minister Tammam Salam and the army and security forces on how they would be disbursed. His arrival underscored the seriousness of the clashes in the Arsal region in eastern Lebanon on the Syrian border. Fighting that began there on Saturday has eased, with a truce meant to lead to the withdrawal of gunmen from several jihadist groups fighting in Syria and the release of 17 policemen and 19 soldiers thought to be held hostage. But the violence is the worst in the border region since the Syrian war began in March 2011, and has raised further concerns about the effects of the conflict on Lebanon. Despite Beirut's effort to insulate itself from the war next door, the fighting has spilled over and stoked existing political and sectarian tensions in Lebanon. Much of Lebanon's Sunni community, including Hariri, supports the Sunni-dominated uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. But many Lebanese Shiites support Assad, and the powerful Shiite Hezbollah movement has sent fighters to bolster his troops against the uprising. Hariri, 44, has voiced unconditional support for Lebanon's army in the fight against jihadists in Arsal, calling it a "red line". But some of his constituents accuse the army of allowing Hezbollah free rein to fight in Syria and failing to protect Sunnis. Today, the situation in Arsal was largely quiet, but an AFP video journalist said several hundred residents who tried return to their homes were forced to flee after coming under sniper fire. He said several were wounded and the army closed the route back into the town after the incident. The fighting in Arsal began on Saturday afternoon, when gunmen attacked soldiers after the arrest of a Syrian man accused of belonging to Al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate Al-Nusra Front. At least 17 soldiers have been killed, and 19 remain kidnapped along with 17 policemen. Dozens of militants have been killed, and field hospitals have reported at least 47 deaths, with more than 250 wounded.

Tags: #

Latest News

What to Next

Russian foreign minister says US ready to continue talks

MOSCOW: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Sunday he believed his US colleagues were ready to continue dialogue with Moscow on complex iss... More

BJP keen to amend law on permanent residence in held Kashmir

NEW DELHI: Away from the attention that Article 370 attracts, some members and supporters of the Bha­ratiya Janata Party (BJP) are steadily pushin... More

North Korea defiant after new sanctions, rejects talks

SEOUL (AFP):North Korea on Monday angrily insisted tough new United Nations sanctions would not stop it from developing its nuclear arsenal, and warne... More

Does Trump worry you? US Muslims say yes : Survey

Survey finds Muslims feel out of place in society, displeased with their president, and are targets of discrimination. The early days of Donald Tru... More

DEATH TO ISIS:Thousands flood streets in furious protest to condemn terror group

Thousands of protesters chanted slogans against the militant Islamic State group Wednesday as they carried the coffins of victims of an attack targeti... More

China says restrained in face of India

BEIJING: China accused India on Wednesday of “concocting” excuses over the illegal entry of the South Asian nation’s military into C... More

COAS, Afghan envoy discuss border issues

ISLAMABAD: Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa met Afghanistan’s ambassador Dr Omar Zakhilwal on Wednesday for continuing discussions on normalisation of... More

Apple removes VPN services from Chinese app store

BEIJING: Apple has removed software allowing internet users to skirt China’s “Great Firewall” from its app store in the country, the... More

IS claims attack on Iraq embassy in Kabul

A suicide bomber blew himself up outside the Iraqi embassy in Kabul on Monday and militants breached the compound in a complex hours-long attack claim... More

Saudi-led bloc opens emergency routes to Qatari planes

DUBAI: Four Arab states that have cut diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar said on Monday that they have opened up air routes that Qatari planes c... More

83