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June 9, 2012 (TSR) – The smuggling of weapons and armed men across illegal crossings on the Lebanese-Syrian borders is being continued, Lebanese Minister of Defense Fayez Ghosn underscored.
In a televised interview with ‘al-Manar’ Satellite Channel, Minister Ghosn added that the running away of some suspected extremists from ‘Ein al-Hilwa’ Camp in Lebanon is part of the extremist groups’ activities, asserting that the Syrian opposition has interest in using the Lebanese City of Tripoli as a base for striking Syria from within.
‘The armed men, coming from Turkey, Iraq and other parts, running away from Syria inflame Tripoli and Lebanon in general in implementation for premeditated schemes,” added Minister Ghosn, asserting that the Lebanese Army is playing its role in protecting all Lebanese and combating all the armed men who destabilize security and stability in Lebanon.
The Lebanese Minister added that the ongoing investigations into the smuggling of weapons by ‘Lutfallah 2 ship’ indicated that the ship was on its way to some extremists in Tripoli as to be smuggled by them to Syria.
EVIDENCE OF AL QAEDA OPERATIVES AMONG SYRIAN OPPOSITION SMUGGLING THE WEAPONS
Highlighting the dangers against Lebanon’s security and stability, the Defense Minister announced in December 2011 that he received intelligence on the presence of al-Qaeda operatives on Lebanese soil and the smuggling of arms across the border with Syria.
In an interview covered by the London-based al-Hayat, Ghosn said that “there is information that militants from al-Qaeda are entering Lebanon pretending they are members of the Syrian opposition and smuggling arms into the country.”
He then explained that the militants enter Lebanon from the Beqaa Valley in the east and particularly through the border town of Ersal in the district of Baalbek.
Last year, ministerial sources in Lebanon said that Lebanese Army Commander General Jean Kahwaji had told President Michel Suleiman, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berry, and Prime Minister Najuib Mikati that a Lebanese citizen in the town of Ersal has connections with al-Qaeda and that the army tried to arrest him for interrogation but residents prevented them.
Residents of the town said that the man the army tried to arrest is Syrian and has been living in Ersal for a year. They also stressed that he works there and has no interest in politics.
The information about the man’s ties with al-Qaeda, Kahwaji said, was based on European sources.
According to political analysts, the recent focus on the town of Ersal began for reasons other than terrorism and arms smuggling. According to the analysts, the town received attention because it is on the border with Syria and because Syrian army officers have been infringing on Lebanese sovereignty and firing gunshots inside Lebanese territories. This, they added, left several Lebanese citizens injured and dead since last year.