Officials Warn of Strife between Lebanese Army, Syrian Refugees

Beirut – Stances in support of the Lebanese army continued to pour in amid warning against the eruption of internal strife in Lebanon in wake of calls for two opposing protests.

The first demonstration was aimed at voicing support for the military and the other was aimed at backing Syrian refugees in the country in wake of the death of four refugee detainees out of 350 who were arrested by the army in encampments for the displaced in the northeastern border area of Arsal in late June.

The General Security announced on Monday the arrest of the administrator of the Syrian Union in Lebanon Facebook page that had exploited the call by the Socialist Forum to hold a demonstration to back the refugees to instead create incitement against the Lebanese army.

The arrest was made in wake of talks that were held by Interior Nouhad al-Mashnouq and the various security commanders. The gatherers decided to reject any demonstration request in order to preserve civil peace and security in wake of the tensions in the country.

The Socialist Forum had in turn canceled its rally that was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon in Beirut’s downtown area.

Mashnouq stressed that there is “constant coordination and consultations between the Lebanese army and political authority.”

“The army does not need demonstrations to support it because it enjoys the complete backing of the political authority,” he added, emphasizing that the situation in the country is under control.

Commenting on the developments, head of the Democratic Gathering MP Walid Jumblat said: “No to demonstrations over the refugees and no to the experiences of the years 1975 and 1967 that harmed the country and divided it.”

“Yes to distinguishing between terrorism and the Syrian refugees,” he added.

He noted however: “Who said that the Syrian intelligence agencies are innocent from what is happening? They may want to create arbitrary clashes between the army and refugees.”

“Let the army perform its duties away from incitement,” the MP demanded.

On this note, political sources from the March 14 camp expressed their suspicion over the Syrian Union in Lebanon’s call for a rally.

“This suspicious call, which is reminiscent of the Palestinian protests against the Lebanese army on the eve of the 1975 war, does not stem from this group’s keenness on the refugees. It appears to bear the hallmarks of intelligence agencies that have taken the decision to use the refugee file to create local tensions and deliver messages to the Lebanese state and other influential countries,” they explained.

“This message warns these sides against ignoring the Syrian regime and its allies in any upcoming settlement to the Syrian conflict,” said the sources.

On Tuesday, an Internal Security Forces Intelligence Bureau force raided the residence of H.Z. in the al-Taamir al-Fawqani region in the South where it confiscated several documents. It was later revealed that he is the administrator of the Syrian Union in Lebanon Facebook page.

He has since been taken in for investigation.

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