BEIRUT: Two Lebanese soldiers were killed early Sunday at their barracks, hours after security forces had attacked a terror cell on the border with Syria.
The Lebanese army said that on Sunday at 1 a.m. terrorists in a car had opened fire on guards at an army post in Arman-Miniyeh, which is north of Beirut.
The guards responded by returning fire. The gunfight killed two soldiers and one of the attackers, while the remaining assailants fled.
The army, in another statement, said: “The terrorist Omar Burais, who was on a motorcycle, attempted to enter an army post in Arman in Miniyeh and the guards stopped him, which led to his immediate death. Upon examination of the terrorist’s body, hand grenades and an explosive belt, which he intended to detonate inside the post, were found in his possession. A military expert worked to dismantle the explosive belt and detonate it.”
Army units raided places that Burais used to visit and they arrested five of his relatives, including uncles and cousins.
The army mourned the soldiers killed in the attack: Cpl. Mohammed Khaled Al-Nashar and Cpl. Ahmed Khaled Saqr.
The attack followed an operation from the Information Division of the Internal Security Forces against terrorists in the northern border region of Wadi Khaled.
The division said it had identified and tracked down the people responsible for last month’s Kaftoun-Koura assault, which killed three municipal guards in the town, and it emerged that the perpetrators were part of a cell working for Daesh in Lebanon.
“As a result of the efforts, the Information Division managed to identify all the terrorist group’s members, who were more than 15 and worked under the command of a Syrian (M.H.), and arrested three of them,” it added. “On Sept. 26, the Information Division identified the whereabouts of the terrorist group’s members in Wadi Khaled, and they were in a secluded house. A security operation was carried out by the division’s Strike Force to besiege the house.”
The division said that members of the terrorist group started shooting at the security forces. Security forces retaliated and the exchange of fire led to the killing of 13 terrorists and 15 arrests.
Local media later reported that only nine terrorists were killed and that they were all wearing explosive belts.
The security operation took place between Saturday 4 p.m. and Sunday 8 a.m.
A teacher from a school in Wadi Khaled said that some of his former students were among the dead. The teacher, who asked not to be named, said that the house where the terrorists were staying was only 250 meters from a Lebanese army checkpoint.
He remarked that the area was not suspicious at all and that the young men, who were residents of the area, used to go to local cafes. They played football with two young Syrian men who had fled to Lebanon a decade ago and grown up among the Lebanese.
He said that those who were killed were aged between 17 and 24. They included Ahmed Ismail, Mohammed Al-Hassan, Mohammed Al-Halabi, and Mohammed Al-Asaad.
“Wadi Khaled has been housing 70,000 Syrian refugees since the crisis started in Syria, and they have been among us for about 10 years,” the teacher told Arab News. “Their children grew up with our children, and the young men did not show terrorist tendencies. They behaved in a very normal way. They had some extremism-tainted ideas, but we never saw them do anything suspicious. This is very strange. We trust the security services, and they may have information that we do not have.”
Lebanese President Michel Aoun condemned the terrorist attack against the army post in Miniyeh. He saluted “the two martyrs” who were killed in the attack and their fight with their comrades against the perpetrator.
A statement from Baabda Palace said that the terrorist group had infiltrated the area through the Syrian border.
The security operation and the terrorist attack coincided with the opening of the general amnesty file, which is scheduled to be discussed by Parliament on Wednesday and Thursday.
Political parties have objected to the approval of this amnesty for Islamist detainees, who have not been tried for many years.