Former Lebanese security chief condemns Hezbollah’s Syria role
Former official voiced fears that jihadists will return to Lebanon and neighboring countries at the end of the Syrian conflict
Former chief of Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces Ashraf Rifi condemned Hezbollah’s fighting alongside the Syrian regime, warning that jihadist groups may cross into Lebanon and nearby countries when the current conflict ends.
“I condemn what Hezbollah is doing [in Syria], and I also condemn the counter jihad [against Hezbollah]. But I condemn the act more than I condemn the reaction,” Rifi told Al Arabiya New Channel's weekly program "Point of Order" with Hasan Muawad.
The former security official also voiced fears that jihadists fighting in Syria will return to Lebanon and neighboring countries after the current conflict ends, and called on all concerned countries to prepare themselves for the influx of fighters.
On domestic security concerns, Rifi said that Lebanese radical Sunni cleric Ahmad al-Assir’s power was “weak” and that his followers incapable of being behind the suicide bomb attack on the suicide bombers who targeted the Iranian embassy in Beirut last month.
Assir, a Lebanese radical Sunni cleric, has been in hiding since June, following brief clashes between his supporters and the Lebanese army in the southern city of Sidon.
Commenting on the recent operation where the Lebanese army was granted full responsibility for security in the northern city of Tripoli, Rifi said he feared the plan may not work.
The decision to implement the security plan came after 10 people were killed in weekend clashes between Tripoli’s Alawite sect, which supports Syria’s Alawite President Bashar al-Assad, and majority Sunni Muslims who back his enemies.
So far this year, sectarian violence in Tripoli has killed more than 100 people.
The former security official said that the militias responsible for the conflict in the northern city were linked to a “state or an organization that has financial and military capabilities,” adding that forces opposed to the violence were “defending their country with minimum weapons and funding.”
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