Hariri: Hezbollah not participating
in Arsal battles

Saad Hariri. (AFP/Joseph Eid)

BEIRUT - Future Movement leader MP Saad Hariri on Wednesday stressed that Hezbollah has not participated alongside the Lebanese Armed Forces in its battle against Syrian militants in Arsal.


However, Hariri echoed his party’s accusation that Hezbollah helped provide an underlying cause for the Lebanese border fighting, saying that the Shiite party “is responsible for this battle in some way.”


“There is no doubt that Hezbollah’s participation in Syria has sparked a reaction by rebels… this intervention was wrong and targeting the army by militants is a crime,” Hariri said in a press conference in Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah.


The Future Movement leader also underscored the importance of negotiating with the militants to help release abducted soldiers, amid efforts by the Muslim Scholars Delegation in the past days to release kidnapped security forces members and impose a humanitarian truce in Arsal.


“Negotiations are a must because terrorists have detained soldiers… and the important thing is for soldiers to be released, armed men to withdraw from Lebanese territory, and Arsal to be saved.”


The Lebanese Armed Forces on Tuesday evening accepted terms for a 24-hour ceasefire in Arsal, however militants shortly afterward broke the truce with a bid to attack an army checkpoint outside the town.


Effort continued throughout Wednesday, amid violence in the border town, to secure a cease-fire and release the remaining hostages.


Fighting between Islamist militants and the LAF in Arsal has left at least 15 soldiers dead since clashes erupted Saturday after the arrest of Al-Nusra Front commander Imad Jumaa.


The clashes sparked Lebanese calls on foreign states to provide aid to the country’s armed forces, and France announced Tuesday that it would speed up its efforts to provide weaponry to Lebanon that had been financed by a $3 billion Saudi grant earlier in 2013.


Riyadh on Wednesday decided to provide another $1 billion in military aid to Lebanon, with Hariri announcing in his press conference that the funds will “all legal agencies as soon as possible to fight terrorism.”


The Future leader added that he will launch contacts with Premier Tammam Salam and security officials regarding the grant to discuss ways to “meet the needs of security forces and providing them with requirements to fight terrorism.”

Saad Hariri. (AFP/Joseph Eid)

There is no doubt that Hezbollah’s participation in Syria has sparked a reaction by rebels.