Hariri Warns of Bid to 'Sow Discord' between Army, Syrian Refugees
Minister Saad Hariri on Monday warned of attempts to “sow discord and tensions” between the army and the Syrian refugees in Lebanon while voicing “unconditional” support for the military institution.
“The army is keen on citizens and civilians more than any other side,” said Hariri after talks at the Grand Serail with Defense Minister Yacoub Sarraf and Army chief General Joseph Aoun, referring to controversy over the army's treatment of refugees and detainees in the wake of major security sweep at refugee encampments near the border town of Arsal.
“There is a transparent probe into the deaths of the four Syrian detainees and political support for the army is totally unconditional,” the premier added.
He also cautioned that “there is a political group or side that wants to sow discord and tensions between the army and the refugees,” while lauding the military for “fighting terror and preventing suicide attacks inside Lebanon.”
“These attempts will not succeed,” he reassured.
State Minister for Human Rights Ayman Choucair had on Thursday called on the army and the judiciary to probe the recent deaths of at least four Syrian detainees in army custody.
A Syrian opposition group and international and local human rights organizations have called for a quick investigation into the death of the four detainees.
The four were detained in a June 30 sweeping security raid in refugee settlements in and around Arsal that netted 355 Syrians. Troops were met with a string of suicide attacks and grenades that left seven of them wounded and a Syrian child dead.
The army's announcement that four detainees died due to "chronic health problems aggravated by weather conditions" sparked swift allegations that the four Syrian men were tortured to death, particularly after images emerged depicting dead bodies with bruises.