Lebanese army chief: 50 militants held in raids on Syrian camps

Reuters , Tuesday 25 Jul 2017

Joseph Aoun
File Photo: Lebanon's army chief, General Joseph Aoun (Reuters)

Lebanon's army chief said on Tuesday the army had 50 "dangerous terrorists" in custody among hundreds of detainees arrested in recent security raids on Syrian refugee camps on the border between the two countries.

General Joseph Oun was quoted on the army website as saying that among those detained since a major security sweep began last month were some who had taken part in an attack on the town of Arsal in 2014 and in the kidnapping of army soldiers.

The camps around the town have long been a haven for militants from Syria who have clashed with Lebanese forces conducting security raids in search of suspects hiding among the refugees.

Syrian insurgents briefly overran Arsal in 2014 in a battle that killed dozens and marked one of the more serious spillovers of the Syrian conflict into Lebanon

"The army will not make the camps a facade for the terrorists," Oun was quoted as saying, without elaborating on the identity of the militants.

The army said at the time of the raids last month that there were several Islamic State officials among some 350 people detained.

It later said four of the Syrian men arrested had died in detention from chronic illnesses. Rights activists and refugees said they had been tortured to death.

Lebanon's powerful Shia Hezbollah group last Friday launched an offensive in the mountains overlooking Arsal to oust jihadists from their last foothold along the Syria-Lebanon border. 

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