The Lebanese Army prevents daily attempts by Islamist militants to infiltrate through Lebanon’s eastern borders and is prepared to defend the country against any attack, military chief Gen. Jean Kahwagi said Thursday.
“The exceptional circumstances that the country is experiencing and the internal disputes… will not at all affect the determination of the Army to protect civil peace and coexistence between the Lebanese,” he said after a tour at a military base in the Beirut area of Karantina.
The Army will “continue the battle against terrorist organizations on the eastern borders,” he added.
“The Army battles every day the terrorist groups who attempt to infiltrate through the borders, and faces with utmost determination and strength these organizations, regardless of the sacrifices required.”
The comments come in light of a heated dispute between March 8 and March 14 forces over the Army’s duties in the northeastern town of Arsal and its outskirts.
The Free Patriotic Movement has called on the Army to liberate the outskirts from all Islamist militants, saying the whole country remains at threat because of their presence.
Hezbollah holds the same position, saying that it would attack the militants and push them out of the area if the Lebanese Army and state fail to do so.
March 14 parties have said that the Army alone is responsible for protecting the country’s borders, but no party from that coalition has called for any intervention to oust the militants.
“We will not allow any blinding or distortion … around the huge sacrifices that the Army has made in the fierce battles it has been fighting against this takfiri terrorism since last August,” Kahwagi said.
“The Army has done what the strongest armies in the world have failed to do in the face of such organizations,” he added.