Lebanon begin imposing entry restrictions on Syrians as the country struggles to cope with more than a million refugees fleeing the civil war next door. The government estimates there are about 1.5 million Syrians in Lebanon, about a quarter of the total population. Some 1.1 million are registered with the UN refugee agency. Lebanese officials say they simply cannot absorb any more. The policy requires Syrians to obtain visas that limit the time they can remain in Lebanon. Interior minister:
We have enough. There’s no capacity any more to host more displaced
Lebanese security officials say many Syrians are turned back at border crossings but they have no exact figures. The flow of Syrians through one popular crossing appears lower than normal. There are no plans to forcibly repatriate Syrians already in Lebanon.
Lebanese Labor Minister Sejaan Azzi proposes dividing refugees from the Syrian conflict by political alliance and deporting them:
What is at stake now is the proposal that refugees who trust the regime return to the areas under regime control, and those who have faith in Nusra Front and ISIS go to the regions under their control.
Azzi says the option of setting up camps for the refugees similar to the ones existing in Jordan and Turkey is no longer relevant. The remarks come after protests by the families of security personnel kidnapped by ISIS and Al-Nusra Front, the Syrian arm of Al Qaeda.
Thousands attend the funeral of Lebanese soldier Sgt. Ali Sayid, 29, who was executed by militants aligned with ISIS and the Syrian Al Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front. In a Lebanese tradition when a young person dies, the mourners rock the coffin from side to side under a banner of his face. They fire weapons into the air and protest at what they say is failure by the government to negotiate for his release and the release of 26 other security personnel abducted along with him. His uncle, Ahmad Sayid:
He was betrayed by all the politicians, all of them! By parliamentarians and officials, and by the country. He was sold for a cheap price!
Sheikh Nabil Kaouk, the deputy head of Hezbollah’s executive council, says ignoring the threat of ISIS could allow the group to seize Lebanon:
The terrorist threat on Lebanon is actual, real and continuous. And whoever doubts or underestimates [this threat] is either ignorant or negligent, and he harms the high national interest of Lebanon … ISIS’s decision has been announced. Their pretended slogan is to create the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria, which includes Lebanon.
He proposes a “tripartite” force to protect the country consisting of the military, the public and the “resistance”:
Whoever denies Hezbollah’s role in protecting [Lebanon is] oblivious to the truth.
ISIS beheads a Lebanese soldier, one of 19 captured in an assault on the border town of Arsal aimed at freeing captured Syrian rebel commander Imad Ahmad Jomaa. The soldier, recognizable as Ali al-Sayyed, a Sunni Muslim from north Lebanon, is shown blindfolded with his hands tied behind his back, writhing and kicking the dusty ground while a militant announces he will be killed. Another militant then beheads him.
The U.S. delivers an emergency shipment of weapons to the Lebanese military after ISIS kills and kidnaps soldiers and police in the border town of Arsal. Ambassador David Hale says the U.S. has delivered 480 anti-tank guided missiles, over 1,500 M16-A4 rifles, and mortars.
This is just the latest in a series of deliveries that have arrived in the last 36 hours … More mortars, grenade launchers, machine guns, and anti-tank weapons will be arriving
The Lebanese military confirms that 19 soldiers have died in its battle against ISIS and Al Qaeda affiliate the Al-Nusra Front for the border town of Arsal. At least 60 militants are also dead. Army statement on the most recent death:
Cpl. Suheil Mohammad Dannawi, born in 1987 in Tripoli, north Lebanon, was killed in the battle waged by the Army against terrorist groups in the area of Arsal.
The Lebanese military enters the border town of Arsal and redeploys in security checkpoints following the withdrawal of militants affiliated with ISIS and Al Qaeda branch the Al-Nusra Front who held the town for five days. Thirty-five military vehicles, including two tanks, drive through the northeastern town in the afternoon, heading for the Aqabat al-Mebyaah Army post in Wadi al-Hosn, overtaken on the first day of fighting, as well as Sayadeye and other posts.
ISIS fighters offer a prisoner swap of 19 Lebanese soldiers captured in their assault on the border town of Arsal in exchange for Islamist detainees, including Imad Ahmad Joma, previously affiliated with Al Qaeda branch Al-Nusra Front but now aligned with ISIS. A militant:
It is simple: their soldiers for the Islamic hostages.
A medical official says 42 civilians have died while over 400 are wounded in clashes between the military and fighters from ISIS and Al Qaeda branch the Al-Nusra Front for control of the border town of Arsal. Lebanese Red Cross official Abdullah Zogheib says medics have evacuated 42 wounded people after the rebels retreat, mostly women and children:
Most of them had very serious wounds. They had been shot by bullets, some in the head, and there were amputees from shell fire
Syrian fighters affiliated with ISIS and Al Qaeda branch the Al-Nusra Front withdraw from the Lebanese border town of Arsal at dawn. The militants take with them 10 soldiers and 17 policemen captured and held as hostages. A fighter:
They could be released later in stages
Syrian fighters release three soldiers captured during the assault on the Lebanese border town of Arsal, bringing the total number of soldiers released to five. The group says it is still holding 10 soldiers and 17 policemen. The rebels are reported to pledge allegiance to both ISIS and the Al Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front.
ISIS and the Lebanese military agree a 24-hour ceasefire in the border town of Arsal from 1600 GMT to allow a mediator to investigate the fate of 22 soldiers believed to be abducted by ISIS and help evacuate civilians. A security source says the army position came under fire shortly after the truce started but that it is still intact.
It is like a humanitarian ceasefire … Clashes erupted but now they have ended. The ceasefire is still on, it did not collapse. What happened was to be expected due to differences between the fighters
The Lebanese army advances into the border town of Arsal in a push to drive out ISIS militants who have seized control of the area. Prime Minister Tammam Salam, the government’s most senior Sunni Muslim:
The only solution proposed today is the withdrawal of the militants from Arsal and its environs
A Lebanese Army statement says its casualties total 14 soldiers killed, 86 wounded and 22 missing from three days of fighting against Syrian rebels claiming to be from both ISIS and Al Qaida affiliate the al-Nusra Front. The rebelssay they are fighting to free rebel commander Imad Ahmad Jomaa, who has pledged allegiance to both groups. Jomaa’s deputy:
Let them release our emir and we are ready to pull out from all over the town … Or else we will escalate and expand, and we will ask for more demands
Syrian rebels attack the Lebanese border town of Arsil in an apparent attempt to free a militant, Imad Ahmad Jomaa, detained a day earlier by Lebanese security forces. Army statement:
What happened today is the most dangerous incident Lebanon and the Lebanese have ever faced because it’s made clear that there is someone planning and preparing to attack Lebanon as well as planning to sabotage the Lebanese Army and the residents of Arsal
The Lebanese army says it has arrested Syrian rebel commander Imad Ahmad Jomaa, who initially confesses allegiance to Al Qaeda branch the Al Nusra Front. He is thought to have more recently switched alliances to join ISIS.
Syrian Al Qaeda offshoot the Al-Nusra Front claims a suicide bombing in Lebanon. The car bomb targeting an army post in Hezbollah-controlled area kills two Lebanese soldiers and a civilian and leaves 17 wounded. Prime Minister Tammam Salam, the government’s highest-ranking Sunni official says the attack constitutes an act of terrorism:
The attack on the military establishment exceeds a normal crime. We urge everybody to unite
Assad issues a presidential decree ordering the establishment of diplomatic relations between Syria and Lebanon and announcing the opening of an embassy-level diplomatic mission in Beirut. Following the announcement, the Lebanese Foreign Minister says he will visit damascus to finalize the agreement
Tomorrow I will be in Damascus to meet with my colleague [Syrian Foreign] Minister Walid Moallem…to finalize the necessary measures to establish diplomatic relations between the two countries…My visit will be a crown to the excellent relations between the two countries,