Aoun Says Army Can’t be ‘Lenient’ in Anti-Terror Operations

President Michel Aoun stressed Monday that the army cannot be “lenient” in its anti-terror operations, defending the military against recent abuse allegations.

“In recent days, we have witnessed false accusations against the army, which is offering martyrs to protect Lebanon from terrorism,” Aoun said.

“How can the army be lenient in the face of this, especially when it deals with those who do not hesitate to blow themselves up to inflict harm on others?” the president asked.

He warned that “leniency in such a situation would double the possibility of the occurrence of terrorist crimes.”

Aoun also noted that “the army’s preemptive war against terrorists has always been based on the directions of the political authority that is led by the president,” urging media outlets to “ask, investigate and obtain evidence before publishing accusations against officials.”

The army was accused of abusing refugees and detainees in the wake of recent security raids on two refugee settlements in the border region of Arsal. The raiding troops were met with suicide attacks and grenades, and security forces subsequently arrested dozens of people from the two encampments.

Seven soldiers were wounded and a Syrian girl was killed during the raids, the army said.

Days later, the army announced that four of the Syrian detainees had died of pre-existing medical conditions, sparking accusations of torture.

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