BEIRUT: Lebanese President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri on Tuesday stressed the government’s commitment to clearing Lebanese territory from terrorist groups.
They highlighted Lebanon’s commitment to the international coalition against terrorism, outlining “the urgent need not to waste any chance to combat and deter terrorism and violence.”
Aoun chaired a meeting of the Higher Defense Council at the presidential palace on Monday.
It was attended by Al-Hariri; the ministers of defense, foreign affairs, finance, interior, justice and economy; army Commander Gen. Joseph Aoun and other security apparatus leaders.
At the end of the meeting, the council issued a statement saying: “The participants discussed the security and military situation in the barren areas close to the Lebanese border, Ras Baalbek and Al-Qaa. The council has taken all the necessary recommendations and decisions to ensure the success of the military operations undertaken to eradicate the terrorists.” The decisions were kept “confidential in compliance with the law.”
Arsal Mayor Bassel Al-Hujeiri told Arab News that hundreds of Daesh militants are in the barren areas of Al-Qaa and Ras Baalbek.
The negotiator who mediated between Hezbollah and Jabhat Fatah Al-Sham (JFS), Sheikh Mustafa Al-Hujeiri, told Arab News that “no one is currently negotiating with Daesh.”
He said negotiations were possible with JFS but “difficult” with Daesh because it “resorts to killing instead of negotiating.”
Vice Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Ghassan Hasbani told the National News Agency (NNA): “The Lebanese army is the only authority that should protect and preserve Lebanon’s borders and sovereignty.”
He added: “The army is the one to decide the timing of the upcoming battle against Daesh, with the support of the political authorities … The necessary measures have been taken to secure the transportation of wounded persons, in cooperation with the Lebanese Red Cross.”
A member of the Development and Liberation parliamentary bloc, Yassine Jaber, told the NNA that he is “confident” that the army will prevail against Daesh.
Jamaah Islamiyah (Islamic Group) MP Imad Al-Hout expressed his appreciation to the military for its sacrifices, saying it is the sole decision-taker in the upcoming battle.
MP Joseph Al-Maalouf expressed hope that the army “will end the battle with minimal physical and material losses.”
He told the Voice of Lebanon radio station: “In the past two weeks, after the eruption of the battles on the eastern borders of Lebanon, the Lebanese have shown their full support for the army.”
He criticized unilateral decisions taken by Hezbollah in the battle against JFS in the barren areas of Arsal, saying they undermined Lebanese sovereignty.