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hariri 2014ariFormer Lebanese Prime Minister and Future Movement leader Saad Hariri defended the Lebanese Army’s role , in trying to liberate Arsal from the Islamist militant groups .

“There is no place for the Takfiri and terrorist organizations, and there will be no leniency with its destructive mission, which is alien to the people of moderation and tolerance,” Hariri said in an interview by Al-Hayat newspaper published Monday.

Hariri said that the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) and the Al-Qaeda affiliated Nusra Front had no choice but to leave Arsal, stressing that neither the state nor his party will tolerate their mission.

“These groups have no option but to vacate Arsal .” Hariri stressed

Red line

Hariri said that the Lebanese Army and Internal Security Forces are red lines to the Future Movement, which has a strategic and fixed stand toward Takfiri groups.

“Is this how the favor is returned to the people of Arsal, who hosted their brethren refuging from Syria and didn’t hold back any support they could give them?” Hariri asked, adding that Arsal’s residents have one mission only, and it’s the mission of the Lebanese state.

Arsal is home to 40,000 residents and 120,000 Syrian refugees.

“Have they been rewarded by being turned into hostages because they said no to these groups?” he continued, underlining that the events taking place in Arsal are a violation of Lebanon’s sovereignty and the sovereignty of the state over its territory.

Hariri is expected to issue a detailed statement on the Arsal fighting soon, Future Movement sources said on Monday.

The Army had vowed Sunday to end its campaign in “48 hours,” pledging to eradicate all armed existence from the town.

The Lebanese army has been facing its most serious challenge as a military institution since it confronted armed Sunni fundamentalists in the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in northern Lebanon between May 21 and Sept. 3, 2007.

The Lebanese government is now facing the difficult test that it has been anticipating since the outbreak of the Syria crisis in March 2011.

Violent clashes broke out in Arsal between Lebanese army units and armed supporters of the Syrian opposition in the early afternoon of Aug. 2.

The clashes were triggered when the army arrested a Syrian gunman named Imad Ahmed Jumaa on suspicion of being an official of the pro-al-Qaeda group Jabhat al-Nusra. Immediately after the arrest, gunmen clashed with the army in the area, breaking into the center of the Internal Security Forces (ISF) in Arsal. Within a few hours, the fighting spread to include Jurud Arsal, the rugged outskirts of Arsal, and the surrounding areas. Dozens were killed and injured, including 11 dead and 25 wounded soldiers, and 13 soldiers who are missing. Also, an unspecified number of ISF troops were kidnapped and taken to areas controlled by Sunni fundamentalist gunmen on the Syrian side of the border.

Hezbollah plan
The clashes in Arsal marked the beginning of a comprehensive military plan carried out by Hezbollah fighters. In this context, Hezbollah sources have confirmed to Al-Monitor that the plan consists of three stages, and is in its third stage: from Arsal’s northern perimeter to the Lebanese town of Tfail — this stage has been fully implemented; from Tfail to Jurud Qalamoun in Syria — this stage was close to completion a few days ago; and combing the area surrounding Arsal — this stage is set to start in a few days. The first two stages have effectively resulted in Jurud Arsal being encircled.

According to analysts Hezbollah is slowly but surely trying to drag the Lebanese army into the Syrian conflict by using it as its shield against the radical Islamist terrorists which could have very serious consequences for Lebanon.

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