Lebanese Army raises flag after Daesh withdrawal

Special Lebanese Army raises flag after Daesh withdrawal
This frame grab from video provided by the Lebanese Army official website, shows army soldiers firing towards Islamic State militant positions, on the outskirts of Ras Baalbek, northeast Lebanon, on Sunday. (AP)
Updated 30 August 2017

Lebanese Army raises flag after Daesh withdrawal

Lebanese Army raises flag after Daesh withdrawal

BEIRUT: The Lebanese Army on Tuesday raised the national flag on the highest hills of a barren area near the border with Syria, where Daesh militants were holed up before their withdrawal earlier this week.
The army command said in a statement that it had scoured the area for explosives following the retreat of the militants.
“The Lebanese flags were raised on the … highest peaks in the area, while specialized units in the Engineers Regiment surveyed the area in search of land mines, explosive devices, and suspicious objects left by the terrorists.”
The deployment came just after the army was moved to deny reports claiming the resignation of the commander of the military operation in the area, criticizing the websites that published the news.
Lebanon on Tuesday witnessed heightened political tensions relating to the military operation and recent confirmation that eight Lebanese soldiers kidnapped by Daesh in 2014 had been killed. Hezbollah supporters accused the government of former Prime Minister Tammam Salam and the Future Movement of preventing the army from launching a military operation to liberate the kidnapped soldiers.
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri said on his Twitter account that “Prime Minister Salam is higher than the reach of the prejudiced; we were, and still are, standing by him. Enough is enough.”
The Future Movement political movement denounced “the deceptive stance of Hezbollah in the last phase of the confrontation, which the Lebanese army fought with high professionalism against (Daesh).”
The statement also criticized Hezbollah for securing the withdrawal of Daesh militants to Syria “without punishing the killers of the Lebanese soldiers.”
By doing this, according to the Future Movement, “Hezbollah revealed to the Lebanese people that it is only concerned about its own interests, the interests of Iran and the Syrian regime, regardless of the interests of the Lebanese people.”
Samir Geagea, the executive chairman of the Lebanese Forces, claimed in a statement that “Hezbollah could have reached the exchange deal after the complete expulsion of ISIS (Daesh) from Lebanese territory by the Lebanese army, not before that.”
Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil stated that the terrorist project in Lebanon has failed.
Bassil called for “a new approach to Syria and the region … Lebanon should be ready to defend its higher interests, starting with the return of Syrian refugees to their homeland and encouraging that from now.”