The Lebanese army cordoned off parts of the eastern Bekaa Valley on Tuesday and raided homes of suspected drug lords as it hunted down those behind the killing of four soldiers.
The soldiers were killed when their vehicle was raked with bullets and blasted with a grenade on Monday in an apparent drugs-related ambush in the Bekaa, a lawless region ruled by clans and long known as a fertile drug-producing area.
Hundreds of troops fanned out between the Bekaa and the Hermel region, further north, setting up checkpoints and raiding the homes of drug barons who for years have operated with near total impunity in the area.
An army spokesman said that the raids would continue until those behind the attack were arrested.
“We will raid every region and every location where we have information on suspects,” he said. “We have raided a number of homes and detained several suspects wanted in previous cases but they don’t include those behind Monday’s attack.”
Several hundred kilograms of poppy seeds used to grow hashish were seized at the home of a suspected drug lord on the run.
The Lebanese army cordoned off al-Sharawni, a neighborhood in the main Bekaa town of Baalbek, and surrounded the home of Hassan Ali Jaafar, a leading suspect in Monday’s ambush.
Jaafar is the brother of Ali Abbas Jaafar, a drug baron who was killed by the army last month after refusing to stop at a checkpoint. He was wanted on a variety of charges, including drug trafficking and attempted murder of soldiers and civilians.
Following his killing, Jaafar’s relatives opened fire at an army vehicle, wounding three soldiers, and Monday’s ambush — which also left a soldier wounded — was widely believed to be a revenge attack.
The Jaafar clan issued a statement on Tuesday condemning the killing of the soldiers but stressed that the army could not raid the homes of “decent people.”
The clan also said that it would not harbor any suspects involved in the ambush.
Many residents of the area had fled their homes after the ambush fearing an escalation between the army and the Jaafar clan, but the situation remained relatively calm on Tuesday.
Lebanese officials, including President Michel Sleiman and Interior Minister Ziad Baroud, vowed the attack against the soldiers, who were buried on Tuesday, would not go unpunished.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad also condemned the killings in a telephone call to Sleiman and said he backed the Lebanese army in its bid to maintain stability.
POINT-BLANK RANGE: Reporters and camera people from several outlets say police officers in Minneapolis had fired tear gas and rubber bullets directly at them Multiple journalists on the ground in Minnesota said they were teargassed and subject to other attacks by police on Saturday evening, a day after the widely condemned arrest of a CNN reporter live on air. Los Angeles Times journalist Molly Hennessy-Fiske, who was reporting outside the Fifth Precinct in Minneapolis, said she was with a group of about a dozen journalists when the Minnesota State Patrol “fired tear gas canisters on us at point blank range.” “I was saying: ‘Where do we go?’ They did not tell us where to go. They didn’t direct us. They just fired on us,” she said
For nearly a decade, the UN Security Council has been frequently paralyzed by Russia’s obstinacy over the Syrian crisis. Today, however, it is the US-China rivalry that has infected a growing array of issues, according to officials and diplomats. As recently as 2017, an understanding between Washington and Beijing allowed the UN on three occasions — involving separate sets of economic sanctions — to project international unity in the face of the North Korean nuclear threat. Three years later, the COVID-19 pandemic has seen a ferocious competition erupt between the UN’s two main contributors, prompting UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on May
HISTORIC FLIGHT: The astronauts named their capsule ‘Endeavour,’ after the space shuttle on which they both flew, while Elon Musk said he was overcome with emotion Two veteran NASA astronauts headed for the International Space Station (ISS) yesterday after Elon Musk’s SpaceX on Saturday became the first commercial company to launch a rocket carrying humans into orbit, ushering in a new era in space travel. SpaceX’s two-stage Falcon 9 rocket with astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard blasted off flawlessly in a cloud of bright orange flames and smoke from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, for a 19-hour voyage to the space station. “Let’s light this candle,” Hurley, the mission commander, told SpaceX mission control in Hawthorne, California, before liftoff at 3:22pm from NASA’s
INDIA Pride to be preserved The nation would not let its “pride be hurt” in its latest border flare-ups with China, but is determined to settle the dispute through talks, Minister of Defense Rajnath Singh said in a television interview late on Saturday. “Situations arise with China. It has happened before,” Singh said, adding that the government was striving to make sure “tension does not escalate.” The government has turned down US President Donald Trump’s offer to mediate, he said. IRAN Speaker says talks futile Newly elected Parliament Speaker Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf yesterday said that any negotiations with the US would be “futile.” The nation’s