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Al-Nusra Front affiliate says
withdrew from Arsal

The opening of the Al-Nusra Front in Qalamoun

BEIRUT – The Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front, which was involved in the recent clashes between the Lebanese Armed Forces and Islamist militants in Arsal, said it has withdrawn from the eastern Beqaa town after a deal promising to safeguard civilians.

 

“When they promised not to harm any of our people, the civilians in Arsal, we agreed to leave,” a statement from the group’s Qalamoun affiliate said. 

 

The statement added that a number of detained Internal Security Forces members and LAF soldiers had been handed over as proof other hostages would not be harmed arbitrarily.

 

“We gave them six prisoners as a gesture of good intention; the remaining prisoners have a special status that we will reveal later, God willing.”

 

The group also claimed the original attack which sparked off the clashes was carried out without authorization, and that the responsible group was on trial for the violation.

 

“A faction struck one of the checkpoints in Arsal because of the arrest of Ahmad Jumaa, who recently pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in the Qalamoun [region.]”

 

“It is now subject to a joint sharia court, and the IS in the Qalamoun has disavowed itself of [the faction’s] action.”

 

Calm prevailed on Thursday in Arsal after the Islamist militants withdrew from the town and redeployed along the border with Syria.

 

At least 15 Lebanese army soldiers were killed in the fighting that erupted Saturday when Syrian Islamists stormed the town after the arrest of a Syrian Islamist militant commander.

The opening of the Al-Nusra Front in Qalamoun's Thursday statement.

We gave them six prisoners as a gesture of good intention, the remaining prisoners have a special status that we will reveal later, God willing.