Caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel confirmed on Tuesday reports concerning the sighting of a mystery drone over the residence of Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, a veteran Lebanese Christian politician and senior member of the country’s anti-Hezbollah March 14 Alliance.
“The matter is not a joke, it’s serious and reportedly and it was seen with naked eye,” Charbel said in comments to Free Lebanon radio.
Geagea, who was the target of an assassination attempt in April 2012, told the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya TV network last week: “the murder preparations continue, and to my knowledge they will try to kill me, given the enormous implications this will have for the March 14 Alliance, and for Lebanese politics in general.”
“There are spy drones flying over my residence Maarab as part of a policy of intimidation against March 14, but they know they will not lead to anything with me, they will not be able to assassinate me.” He said
Geagea added that he has contacted Lebanese Armed Forces Commander General Jean Qahwaji, who was “very cooperative, and confirmed to me that these planes are neither Lebanese nor Israeli”
This was in reference to the Hezbollah drones that the party obtained from Iran.
The Lebanese Army is mulling the possible deployment of anti-aircraft guns to shoot down the drone that has been sighted over Geagea’s residence in Maarab since early january Charbel said Tuesday.
He stressed that the necessary measures should be taken to protect Maarab and those who are targeted in assassination attempts.
“Whatever the source of the unmanned aircraft the army should deal with the matter,” Charbel said.
The LF informed the Army last week that guards at Geagea’s residence sighted what appeared to be a drone. Last month, the LF had said a drone carried out flights over the Maarab complex for a period of two weeks.
A couple of days ago the LF informed the army anew that guards sighted the unmanned aircraft again on Friday and described it as white and resembles a drone, adding that it flew at a law altitude and caused unusual sounds.
LF vows to shoot it down
LF MP Antoine Zahra , said on Tuesday that the drone would not be allowed to fly over Maarab, anymore because it would be shot down by guards protecting Geagea’s residence.
Israel is known for sending drones on reconnaissance to south Lebanon to monitor Hezbollah’s positions in the area, but reports surfaced last November that Hezbollah deployed about 200 drones along the Lebanese Syrian border.
Zahra described the drone incident as “very serious,” saying it was part of preparations to assassinate Geagea after an abortive attempt to kill him by firing at him in Maarab in 2012
“The relevant [security] agencies and the Lebanese state must deal seriously with this issue and tackle it as soon as possible,” Zahra said in an interview with Al-Sharq radio station.
He vowed the drone would be shot down if it flew over Geagea’s residence again:
“The drone will not be able to fly [over Maarab] anymore because it will be shot down with light and medium weapons.”
He added it would be better for the Lebanese security agencies to monitor the drone and shoot it down rather than for guards at Geagea’s residence to do so.
March 14 MP Butros Harb and former Internal Security Forces head Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi have also called on the Lebanese Army to take action against the drone that had hovered over Geagea’s residence.
“The frequent unknown flights over Maarab are undoubtedly a serious issue that could be part of preparations for an attack on Maarab and Dr. Geagea,” Harb told the Free Lebanon radio station.
“Therefore, the state and its security apparatuses, particularly the Lebanese Army, which possesses the equipment that enables it to watch, monitor and prevent any attack, must take the necessary measures to protect Maarab from any possible attack.”
Rifi also urged security agencies to take measures to identify the drone, determine its point of origin and mission, and shoot it down using the appropriate means if it turns out to be an enemy aircraft.
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