Hariri Discusses Security, Anti-IS Measures with Army Chief
Prime Minister Saad Hariri held talks Tuesday at the Grand Serail with Army Commander General Joseph Aoun, hours after a Higher Defense Council meeting in Baabda.
A statement issued by Hariri's office said the premier's talks with the army chief tackled “the security situations in the country, especially the situation in the northern Bekaa area of al-Qaa.”
Aoun briefed Hariri on “the measures that the Lebanese army is taking to confront the militants of the terrorist Islamic State group who are entrenched in the area's mountains,” the office added.
The talks come a day after IS militants fired seven rockets at the town of al-Qaa in retaliation to intense army bombardment of their posts.
The army has intensified its shelling of the jihadists in recent days and is reportedly gearing up for a long-awaited assault to dislodge hundreds of militants from the border region.
The ouster of the group from the region would 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.
The developments follow 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.