Lebanon says it foiled plots to stage attacks in May

Lebanese Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk holds a press conference at the police headquarter in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, Dec. 10, 2018. (AP)
Updated 10 December 2018
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Lebanon says it foiled plots to stage attacks in May

  • The attacks were planned from Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province and were timed to coincide with Lebanon’s general election, the interior minister said
  • Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces monitored the plot and thwarted it, he said

BEIRUT: Lebanon foiled a plot by militants based in Syria to carry out two attacks this year against places of worship and Lebanese army positions, Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk said on Monday.
The attacks were planned from Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province and were timed to coincide with Lebanon’s general election that took place in May, he said in a televised news conference.
Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces monitored the plot and thwarted it, he said. The country remains safe for both residents and visitors, he added.
Lebanese authorities say they have disrupted or foiled numerous attacks in recent years, including some linked to the conflict in neighboring Syria. From 2013-2016 militants struck Lebanon repeatedly with bomb attacks
Idlib province is part of the last remaining stronghold in Syria outside government control and much of it is held by extremist rebel groups including the country’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate.
Lebanon shares power among its religious sects and has maintained a “dissociation” policy of staying out of regional conflicts.
However, Lebanon’s Iran-backed Shiite group Hezbollah has played a key military role in Syria supporting President Bashar Assad against mostly Sunni rebels seeking to oust him.


US bolsters Middle East force with 1,500 troops as Pentagon blames Iran for tanker attacks

Updated 24 May 2019
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US bolsters Middle East force with 1,500 troops as Pentagon blames Iran for tanker attacks

  • Donald Trump says the additional troops would serve a 'mostly protective' role
  • The US began reinforcing its presence in the Arabian Gulf region earlier this month

WASHINGTON: The US will strengthen its force in the Middle East with 1,500 extra troops, Donald Trump said Friday as the Pentagon blamed Iran for an attack on oil tankers off the coast of the UAE.

"We want to have protection in the Middle East," Trump said as he left the White House for a trip to Japan. "We're going to be sending a relatively small number of troops, mostly protective.
"Some very talented people are going to the Middle East right now. And we'll see what happens."

Shortly after his comments, the Pentagon accused Iran's Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) of being directly responsible for attacks on tankers off the UAE earlier this month, describing it as part of a "campaign" by Tehran driving new US deployments.
"The attack against the shipping in Fujairah we attribute it to the IRGC," said Rear Admiral Michael Gilday, the director of the Joint Staff, adding the Pentagon attributed limpet mines used in the attack to the IRGC. He declined to describe "the means of delivery" of the mines.

The 1,500 extra troops will be made up of a deployment of 900 more forces, including engineers, and the extension of a tour by some 600 personnel manning Patriot missiles.

Officials said earlier that members of Congress were notified following a White House meeting Thursday to discuss Pentagon proposals to bolster the force in the region.
Earlier this week, officials said that Pentagon planners had outlined plans that could have sent up to 10,000 military reinforcements to the region. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan later said planners had not settled on a figure.
The US began reinforcing its presence in the Arabian Gulf region this month in response to what it said was a threat from Iran.

*With AP and Reuters