Posts Tagged ‘ Lebanon ’

‘US, Israel plan civil war in Lebanon’

Wed Aug 17, 2011

Hezbollah Secretary General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah says the US and Israel are trying to cause a civil war in Lebanon by destroying people’s coexistence.

In his speech on Wednesday, Nasrallah said Washington and Tel Aviv are laying the foundation for sectarian strife in a bid to ruin the social fabric in Lebanon.

The Hezbollah leader also rejected the US-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) probing the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, saying its indictments lack credibility.

The former Lebanese premier and over 20 other people were killed on February 14, 2005 in massive explosions in downtown Beirut.

The STL, which was authorized by a US-sponsored Security Council resolution in 2007, was set up to look into the deadly incident.

The tribunal issued indictments and arrest warrants in June 2011 for four men identified by Lebanese officials as Hezbollah members.

Nasrallah said on Wednesday that the tribunal has refused to consider other scenarios such as Israel’s involvement in the murder.

He also accused media outlets and figures associated with the March 14th movement of jumping to conclusions, adding that they make accusations against Hezbollah without any basis.

Source: PressTV.


Syrian Opposition Members Disappearing in Lebanon

By Mona Alami

BEIRUT, Aug 11, 2011 (IPS) – A wave of mysterious disappearances is befalling members of the Syrian opposition in Lebanon, where Syria’s military and intelligence apparatus had a strong presence during its occupation of the country from 1976 until 2005.

On May 24 at 4:30 in the afternoon, 86-year-old Shibli al-Ayssami, a Syrian former politician and opposition member, left his daughter’s house on the outskirts of the Lebanese mountain city of Aley. He was going for a walk, as he had done every day since he had arrived in Lebanon from his home in Washington five days earlier. Two hours later, the elderly man had vanished without a trace.

“We have not heard from him since,” Ayssami’s daughter, Rajaa Charafedine, told IPS

After several months with no leads, some new information surfaced last week. According to a source that is close to the investigation, three dark-colored four-wheel drive vehicles with tinted windows were seen circling the area before Ayssami’s disappearance. At one point, the cars blocked the road leading to Charafedine’s house, and two men pushed Ayssami into one of the cars. The three vehicles were then spotted a few hours later crossing the border into Syria, en route to Damascus, added the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity as the case is still under investigation.

Ayssami was one of the founders of the Syrian Baath Party. He was the minister of education, culture and agriculture in the 1960s and was vice-president of Syria in 1966, before the government was toppled by Hafez al-Assad, the father of current president, Bashar al-Assad. He was imprisoned and sentenced to death but was able to escape to Lebanon. Two years later he co-founded the Baath Party in Iraq. He retired from political life in 1992.

Walid Saffour, president of the Syrian Committee for Human Rights, said his organization has information that Ayssami was kidnapped by a patrol led by a Lebanese security forces officer who is “known for his loyalty to a major Lebanese political party that is allied with the Syrian authorities.”

“Our information points to Ayssami being detained in one of the branches of the military intelligence in Damascus,” said Saffour.

Ayssami’s kidnapping is not the first of its kind to take place in Lebanon since the beginning of the Syrian pro-democracy uprising and the Assad regime’s brutal crackdown on it.

In February, when anti-regime activity was just beginning in Syria, Lebanese military intelligence agents arrested six Syrians belonging to the Jasem family while they were distributing flyers calling for democratic change in Syria. Three of them disappeared in the early hours of the morning after their release on Feb. 25, according to Nadim Houry, head researcher at Human Rights Watch’s Beirut office.

“Three civilian cars were seen waiting by the police station the night of the Jasems’ disappearance. One of the drivers was identified as a member of the Lebanese security services who was at the time in charge of security at the Syrian Embassy,” a high-ranking officer from the Lebanese security services, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told IPS. The Lebanese security officer who allegedly led the kidnapping was identified as Salah al-Hajj by pan-Arab daily ‘al-Hayat’.

“We could not arrest him due to the current fiery political situation, but he was stripped of any official responsibilities,” the Lebanese security services officer said. In March, the Syrian embassy issued a statement denying that anybody associated with it had played any role in the disappearance of the Jasem brothers.

The Jasem case bears many similarities to a host of disappearances that occurred in Lebanon during the heyday of Syria’s occupation of the country in the 1990s, and even after its military withdrew in 2005.

In one instance, Nawar Aboud – an accountant at the United National Alliance (UNA), a political group affiliated with Syrian opposition figure Refaat al-Asad – was arrested on Dec. 24, 2008 by members of the Lebanese Military Intelligence in Tripoli, Lebanon’s northern capital. Aboud was taken to a local military base for interrogation along with two other UNA employees. Like the Jasem brothers, he disappeared after his release the next day.

“Lebanon has a painful history of people being detained and illegally transferred to Syria. This issue is too sensitive to be dealt with lightly,” said Houry. If members of the security services are involved in the kidnapping of members of the Syrian opposition, they should be prosecuted. Lebanon’s judiciary should open an independent and transparent inquiry to shed light on these disappearances and establish responsibility for them… Only a credible and transparent investigation will put to rest fears that Lebanon’s security services may have acted outside the law and cooperated with Syrian security services in the kidnapping of Syrian opposition members.”

Source: Inter-Press Service.

Using bed sheets, 5 prisoners escape Lebanese jail

August 13, 2011 — BEIRUT (AP) — Five prisoners escaped a high-security Lebanese prison Saturday by scaling down the building’s walls with bed sheets before mixing with visiting relatives and walking out of the compound with them, the interior minister said.

The minister, Marwan Charbel, blamed the escape from the Roumeih prison east of Beirut on “the pure negligence” of the guards and demanded that officers who were in charge when the jail break took place be punished.

Lebanese authorities later released photographs, names and the nationalities of the five fugitives, urging people to contact police with any information. A security official said the five are a Lebanese, a Kuwaiti, a Sudanese and two Syrians.

Late Saturday, members of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah group detained the Sudanese man in the Biddawi refugee camp in northern Lebanon and handed him over to Lebanese authorities, security officials said on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

Local media reports said the escaped convicts included members of the al-Qaida-inspired Fatah Islam group. Charbel refused confirm or deny that there were Fatah Islam members among those who fled. Fatah Islam fought a three-month battle against the army inside the Palestinian refugee camp Nahr el-Bared in northern Lebanon in 2007. The Lebanese army crushed the group after three months, but the clashes left 220 militants, 171 soldiers and 47 Palestinian civilians dead. Dozens of the group’s members were captured.

Lebanese troops, backed by an army helicopter, set up a security cordon around the prison and searched all cars leaving the area, security officials said.

No basis to Hezbollah claims in Syria?

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Aug. 10 (UPI) — A U.N. agency dismissed allegations it had claimed Hezbollah was involved in the Syrian unrest after the Shiite resistance cried foul.

Al-Arabiya, citing Radio France, claimed the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees was set to release a report accusing Syrian ally Hezbollah of killing Syrian army defectors.

Hezbollah denied the allegations, saying the report was part of an effort to discredit the group.

Hezbollah had called on the U.N. agency to be “credible.”

Lebanese media, which picked up the al-Arabiya report, had said the Iranian military was likely involved in the Syrian unrest as well.

The UNHCR, Lebanon’s Daily Star newspaper reported, said the allegations it was making claims on Hezbollah were baseless.

“The UNHCR has categorically denied the information published on the Web site of Al-Arabiya news channel on Aug. 5 quoting French sources and attributing inaccurate statements to UNHCR,” a statement read.

Hezbollah was quoted by the Lebanese newspaper as saying it has issued “many statements” denying it played a role in the Syrian crackdown.

Source: United Press International (UPI).

Bodyguard of Palestinian commander ‘killed in Lebanon’

Thursday 15/12/2011

BEIRUT (Ma’an) — The bodyguard of a top Palestinian commander was shot dead on Wednesday in a refugee camp in southern Lebanon, a local official told Lebanese media.

“At around 10:00 p.m., a masked gunman shot and killed Ashraf Qadiri at his shop here in the Ain al-Hilweh camp,” Munir Maqdah, in charge of security at the camp near Saida, told Now Lebanon.

Qadiri was a bodyguard for Mohammed Abdel Hamid Issa, alias “Al-Lino,” the head of Palestinian party Fatah’s police force in Ain al-Hilweh, according to the Beirut-based news site.

The shooting was the second such incident targeting one of Issa’s bodyguards, Now said.

Source: Ma’an News Agency.

Lebanon to file UN complaint against Israel

BEIRUT (BNO NEWS) — Lebanon will file a complaint on Wednesday against Israel at the United Nations after the troops of both countries exchanged fire along their common border earlier this week, Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Lebanon will file a complaint tomorrow [Wednesday] against Israel through the Lebanese commission to the United Nations (UN), at the backdrop of resolution 1701 violation and the infiltration of Israeli soldiers into Lebanese territories in Wazany yesterday,” the statement said as reported by Lebanon’s National News Agency.

The Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) opened fire on Monday after a seven-man unit belonging to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) crossed the Blue Line that separates the two countries, near the Wazzani River area in southeastern Lebanon. Israeli troops, however, said the skirmish occurred during a military drill in Israeli territory. No casualties were reported.

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) confirmed the exchange of fire and said it had launched an investigation into the incident.

UN envoy to Lebanon Michel Williams on Tuesday warned that incidents such as Monday’s exchange of fire could quickly turn into a war after meeting with Prime Minister Najib Mikati, who affirmed Lebanon’s commitment to defend its sovereignty by “all legitimate means”.

“This was a very disturbing incident … you can go from an incident like this to war within a few hours. That is the reality,” UN Special Coordinator Michel Williams told reporters, according to the Daily Star.

“The good thing is that nobody was injured. The bad news is that we cannot afford any incidents like this,” he added.

Monday’s skirmish is the first in the region since 10 demonstrators were killed in Lebanon and another 112 wounded after they attempted to enter Israel in May during a Nakba Day march. Gunfights, however, are rare since the UN Security Council Resolution 1701 ended the 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement.

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

Source: WireUpdate.

Syrian troops open fire on refugees fleeing to Lebanon

BEIRUT (BNO NEWS) — Syrian forces on Saturday opened fire on refugees fleeing into Lebanon, a security source told the Daily Star.

The source said that the gunfire, which lasted about 20 minutes, began after around 30 families entered Lebanon between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. through the unofficial border crossing at Lebanese border town of Kneisseh in the Wadi Khaled area in the north.

Syrians continue to cross into Lebanon despite the tightened security along the borders by Syrian troops. Some have been killed or wounded in the process, according to reports.

Thousands of Syrians have fled to neighboring countries – Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey- since the unrest began in Syria in mid-March. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said last week that there are currently around 2,300 Syrian refugees in Lebanon, compared to 5,000 in May. It is believed, however, that the real numbers are significantly higher.

According to the UNHCR, there are currently 728 refugees living in poor conditions; 530 persons not hosted by the local community and 1,500 at risk of no longer being hosted by the local community in Lebanon.

Human rights groups said that more than 1,400 people have died since the government crackdown on protesters began and tens of thousands have been arrested. Global campaign group Avaaz said this week that almost 3,000 people have been forcibly disappeared.

In mid-March, pro-democracy demonstrations began in Syria and have continued across the country, which has been ruled by the Baath Party since 1963. Protesters are demanding the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad, who took over his father in 2000.

Assad previously said that the recent events in the country are a conspiracy against national unity. The Syrian government has repeatedly claimed that the violent acts have been instigated by terrorists who use military uniforms and weaponry to pose as soldiers while attacking citizens.

Saturday, July 30th, 2011

Source: WireUpdate.