The army arrested Wednesday thirteen suspects in the Bekaa region in two separate operations, according to military statements.
“Following search and investigations, an Intelligence Directorate patrol raided the houses of Ibrahim Ahmed Matar, Ali Ahmed Matar, Hussam Abdo Matar and Mustafa Mohammed Seifeddine in the Bekaa area of Jdeidet al-Fakiha, where it managed to arrest them,” an army statement said.
The four were wanted on charges of “smuggling arms, ammunition and military equipment to the militant groups in Arsal’s outskirts,” the army added.
It said the suspects used “secret compartments inside an Opel car and a Volkswagen car” to carry out their smuggling operations.
“A rocket, a shell, pistols, light ammunition, a large cache of military gear and a BMW car with no legal registration papers” were seized in the raid, the army added.
Separately, an army force arrested nine Syrians and Palestinians in the Bekaa area of Majdel Anjar for “entering Lebanon illegally and possessing a car with no legal papers and a number of surveillance cameras,” the military said in another statement.
Extremists from the al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State group are entrenched in mountainous regions in Arsal’s outskirts and along the porous Lebanese-Syrian border.
The militants clash with the army and with Hizbullah occasionally but a major confrontation erupted in August 2014 when the two groups overran Arsal in the wake of the army’s arrest of a senior militant.
Nineteen soldiers and around 60 militants were killed in the fighting. The two groups also abducted during the battle dozens of troops and policemen of which four were eventually executed.