Lebanon army arrests ISIS terror cell
The members were reportedly planning attacks inside the country
The Lebanese army has arrested a terrorist cell linked to ISIS, it said on Saturday.
The cell was reportedly carrying out operations inside Lebanon.
“The terrorist cell members were arrested in a series of security operations in the North and Bekaa regions on different dates, and it was found that they had received military training and collected weapons and war ammunition,” the army said in a statement.
The commander of the cell was identified as Khaled Al Talawy, the army said.
ISIS has been damaged to the point that it does not hold any territory in Syria or Iraq any more. But its fighters still operate in some parts of Syria and Iraq, mostly in the vast uncontrolled border areas.
In 2015, Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah declared war on ISIS after the extremists launched an offensive in northern Lebanon.
The Shiite militia once fought an Al Qaeda-linked and other rebel groups along the border that connects Lebanon and Syria. Its leader Hassan Nasrallah vowed to eradicate ISIS’ presence in the country and its threat has been minimal for the most part.
The Lebanese army also fought ISIS but did not engage in joint operations with Hezbollah for fear of angering the international community.
Washington classifies the Iran-backed Hezbollah as a terrorist group.
The Lebanese Shiite group has had a strong presence in northern Lebanon since 2015 after it defeated Syrian Sunni rebels who had controlled local villages and towns.
Many rebels, alongside thousands of Sunni refugees fleeing violence and Hezbollah’s control over their towns, took shelter on the Lebanese side of the border strip.
Hezbollah has provided critical military support to President Bashar Al Assad during Syria’s six-year-long war. Its Lebanese critics oppose Hezbollah’s role in the Syrian war.
North-east Lebanon was the scene of one of the worst spillovers of Syria’s war into Lebanon in 2014, when ISIS and Al Qaeda-linked militants attacked the town of Arsal.