Daesh fighters surrender Lebanon-Syria border enclave

Lebanese soldiers flash the victory sign in Ras Baalbek, Lebanon. (Reuters)
Updated 29 August 2017

Daesh fighters surrender Lebanon-Syria border enclave

BEIRUT: A convoy of Daesh fighters and their families surrendered their enclave on the Lebanon-Syria border area on Monday and left for eastern Syria after a week-long battle.
Daesh had agreed a cease-fire on Sunday with the Lebanese army on one front and the Syrian army and Hezbollah on the other after losing much of its mountainous enclave straddling the border.
Lebanese officials said the evacuation was a surrender. “We do not bargain. We are in the position of the victor and are imposing conditions,” said security chief Gen. Abbas Ibrahim.
A total of 600 people, including both Daesh fighters and their family members, left in the convoy.
The militants will travel across Syria under heavy security escort to Daesh lines near Al-Bukamal in the east, a Lebanese security source said.
The Daesh fighters set fire to heavy equipment and weapons before they left their enclave.
A Lebanese military source said there had been no negotiation or coordination with Syrian forces or Hezbullah. “We heavily bombarded them and this is what accelerated the process of their surrender.”
The deal also involved Daesh handing over the bodies of eight Lebanese soldiers it captured and killed when it overran the town of Arsal in 2014. DNA tests are being conducted to reveal the identity of each body.
Some politicians asked why the terrorists were allowed to withdraw without being arrested. A military source told Arab News: “If the political decision had been in our hands, we would have waged this battle back in 2014, but they did not allow us to do so.”
Gen. Ibrahim said: “Lebanon is a country that doesn’t take revenge; it rather complies with the international law. Whoever falls into the hands of Daesh will certainly be killed, as they are criminals and murderers. This is what happened with our hero soldiers.”
Regarding the fate of photographer Samir Kassab and kidnapped bishops Boulos Yaziji and Youhana Ibrahim, Gen. Ibrahim said: “They were included in the recent negotiations but Daesh confirmed that it did not kidnap them and does not know anything about them.”
He said: “We are now reviewing their file from the beginning to determine the side that kidnapped them. I believe Daesh because it was collapsing and under pressure, therefore it cannot hide anything.”
Former Lebanese President Michel Sleiman said: “How can the Lebanese state stand still for the second time, after the withdrawal of terrorist Abu Malek Al-Tali and his group, allowing Daesh terrorists to leave Lebanon to where they choose without trials, especially after confirming the death of our soldiers.”
He claimed that their “withdrawal came implementing a bilateral agreement between Hezbollah and the Syrian regime,” which the Lebanese military denies.
Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil tweeted: “Our sorrow and mourning will not absolve us of the responsibility to reveal the truth and hold whoever killed our soldiers accountable. Only justice can bring comfort and peace to their souls.”
MP Mohammed Safadi asked for “an explanation regarding the departure of Daesh to Deir Ezzor and the agreement regarding their withdrawal.”


Lebanese celebrities join Beirut protests as anger rises over tax reforms

Updated 19 October 2019

Lebanese celebrities join Beirut protests as anger rises over tax reforms

  • A video emerged on social media showing actress Nadine Al-Rassi preparing to set fire to a car tire in downtown Beirut
  • In a series of tweets, Lebanese recording artist Elissa, who is abroad, supported the protesters’ demands

BEIRUT: Lebanese celebrities joined thousands of protesters on the streets of Beirut on Saturday to voice their anger at the country’s ruling elite.
Singers, actors and playwrights were among a host of high-profile artists who backed demands for action over government corruption and to counter Lebanon’s spiralling economic crisis.
Beirut has been shrouded in smoke for three days following widespread protests and rioting over government tax plans.
A video emerged on social media showing actress Nadine Al-Rassi preparing to set fire to a car tire in downtown Beirut and crying inconsolably about her financial state.
The actress, wearing jeans and her face blackened, told protesters: “I am Nadine Al-Rassi. I was hungry for seven days. I have debts. Banque du Liban (Lebanon’s central bank) seized my house and I am unable to rent a home. Corrupt people should be held responsible.”


In a series of tweets, Lebanese recording artist Elissa, who is abroad, supported the protesters’ demands, saying: “This is the first time I wish I were in Lebanon. My heart is with you.”
In another tweet, the high-profile singer, one of the Middle East’s best-selling performers, said: “I proudly follow the news of Beirut and its citizens ... who are demanding a decent life. It is time for people to get back their dignity.”
Meanwhile, singer and composer Ragheb Alama expressed his dismay at a Council of Ministers plan to impose a daily fee on WhatsApp calls.
“The people’s misfortunes are not funny. Why don’t you tax the polluted air people breathe? It is a great idea that brings money to your fathers’ treasury, too,” he wrote.
Alama accused the Parliament of responsibility for the country’s dire economy: “Why do deputies receive money, privileges and overheads, and what have they done? They covered up for looting and stealing for decades. They are responsible for destroying the economy and the country.”
Nancy Ajram, one of the Arab world’s most popular singers, wrote on Twitter: “My heart goes out to my country every moment and with every heartbeat. We are a people who deserves to live and it is our right to live with dignity. May God protect Lebanon.”
Singer and actress Haifa Wehbe tweeted: “There is nothing better than the Lebanese people when they stand in unity and under one slogan, without any political affiliation. We are all for our country.”
Comedian and prime-time TV host Hisham Haddad was among celebrities who joined protesters at Riad El-Solh Square, near the Prime Minister’s office, site of the biggest centralized demonstrations.
Actress Maguy Bou Ghosn, singer Moeen Shreif, actors Abdo Chahine, Badih Abou Chakra and Junaid Zeineldine, playwright Ziad Itani and musician Ziyad Sahhab also joined the protests.
Actor Wissam Hanna called on Twitter for protesters to close the Beirut Airport road to stop corrupt officials fleeing the country.
“I am all for closing down the airport road to stop thieves from fleeing. I am all for recovering stolen funds. Lebanon rises, revolts and it is time to hold them accountable,” he wrote.
Actress Gretta Aoun said: “We have to take to the streets. They must know the extent of our pain.”