Mustaqbal Says IS Assault Timing Should Not be 'Dictated' on Army
Al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc on Tuesday called for authorizing the Lebanese army to confront the terrorist Islamic State group while stressing that no one should “dictate” decisions or drag the army into an uncalculated battle.
“The bloc underscores the highly important and pioneering role of the Lebanese army in protecting the Lebanese, seeing as it is the only legitimate military institution that has the exclusive and legitimate right to possess weapons and use them to defend and protect the Lebanese,” said Mustaqbal in a statement issued after its weekly meeting.
“Al-Mustaqbal bloc underlines its firm stance in supporting the Lebanese army as it performs its national missions of protecting Lebanon and defending it against Israeli occupation and all forms of terrorism,” the bloc added.
Referring to the army's looming battle against IS militants entrenched in the outskirts of the border towns of al-Qaa and Ras Baalbek, Mustaqbal called for authorizing the army to “take the right decision in terms of modus operandi and timing,” stressing that no one should “dictate” decisions on the military institution.
The army is reportedly gearing up for a long-awaited assault to dislodge hundreds of IS militants from the border region, seeking to end a years-long threat posed to neighboring towns and villages by the extremists.
The campaign might involve cooperation with Hizbullah and the Syrian army on the other side of the border -- although Lebanese authorities insist they are not coordinating with Syrian President Bashar Assad's government.
In a televised speech last Friday, Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said that once the Lebanese army launches its offensive from the Lebanese side, Hizbullah and the Syrian army will begin their attack from the Syrian side. He added that there has to be coordination between the Syrian and Lebanese armies in the battle.
"There is a final decision" to launch an offensive against IS, Nasrallah said.
The planned army operation follows a six-day military offensive by Hizbullah that forced al-Qaida-linked fighters to flee the area on the outskirts of the border town of Arsal, along with thousands of civilians.