Lebanese Army stops major weapons swap in Ain Zhalta


The botched attempt to smuggle weapons to extremist Syrian rebels, which was foiled by the Lebanese army in Ain Zhalta, has been described as a major operation, as reports revealed that an army first adjutant was involved in the bid.

In remarks to al-Manar television, judicial and military sources described the thwarted operation as major and unprecedented.

“On Sunday, April 7, a number of individuals who hail from Wadi Khaled (in the North) headed to the Shouf area of Ain Zhalta, specifically to meet with Mohammed al-Zohor and his son Gabi,” sources told al-Manar.

The Wadi Khaled residents received the cache of weapons and loaded it into three vehicles – “a Kia SUV, a pickup truck and a Volvo.”

“When they left the house to head for Arsal, an army patrol zeroed in on them, which prompted them to open fire,” sources added.

“Army intelligence agents then headed to the house of al-Zohor family, where six people were arrested and eight others managed to flee,” sources said.

The confessions revealed that it was not the first operation of its kind, as the members of al-Zohor family were involved in previous operations of smuggling arms into Syria, according to the sources.

They highlighted the fact that heavy-caliber weapons were seized and that such a quantity of arms could not have been stored in a single house, revealing that a Lebanese army first adjutant identified as T. al-Khatib was among the Wadi Khaled group that came to Ain Zhalta.

Arrest warrant were issued on Monday for a number of suspects linked to the Ain Zhalta incident.

Military Examining Magistrate Imad al-Zein issued arrest warrants against 14 suspects on charges of smuggling arms and the attempted murder of soldiers who were deployed in the region.

The army had announced on April 7 that it thwarted an attempt to deliver arms to “extremists” in Ain Zhalta.

An army statement said that a gunman was killed and eight others were arrested, while a soldier and a member of the armed group were wounded in the incident.

The seized cache of arms contained “heavy-, medium- and light-caliber weapons and a large quantity of ammunition of various types,” it added.