External Affairs

Lebanon Arrests Former Mayor in Border Town Near Syria

A Lebanese soldier carries his weapon as he stands at an army post in the hills above the Lebanese town of Arsal, near the border with Syria, Lebanon September 21, 2016. Credit: Reuters

A Lebanese soldier carries his weapon as he stands at an army post in the hills above the Lebanese town of Arsal, near the border with Syria, Lebanon September 21, 2016. Credit: Reuters

Beirut: Lebanese security forces arrested a former mayor of the town of Arsal near the Syrian border on Saturday in connection with the capture of Lebanese soldiers, security sources said.

Ali al-Hujeiri also stands accused of collusion with the Nusra Front Islamist group, al Qaida’s former Syria branch, the sources said.

Militants from the Nusra Front and ISIS briefly over ran Arsal in 2014 and captured a number of soldiers before they withdrew during clashes with the army.

Nusra Front released 16 soldiers in 2015 in exchange for the release of jailed Islamists.

Islamic State killed all nine soldiers it had captured.

Both groups were driven from their last foothold at the Syria-Lebanon border in recent separate offensives by the army and Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah.

It was not immediately clear which group of captured soldiers Hujeiri was being accused over.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun said this week the army was investigating the circumstances that led to the capture of the soldiers killed by Islamic State.

(Reuters)