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Will Arsal unite Lebanon?

The overwhelming popular support for the Lebanese military’s response to terror encroachment in Arsal suggests that the Lebanese public may yet believe in national unity.
Men fire in the air as mourners carry the coffin of Lieutenant Colonel Nour Eddine al-Jamal, who was killed during Sunday's fighting between Lebanese army soldiers and Islamist militants in Arsal, during his funeral in Basta area in Beirut August 4, 2014. The Lebanese army advanced on Monday into a border town attacked by Islamists at the weekend in the most serious spillover of the three-year-old Syrian civil war into Lebanon. The military pounded areas around the town of Arsal with artillery for a third d

The frail political system in Lebanon has been jolted by the encroachment of terrorist groups in the Bekaa region, where the city of Arsal is located. The overall popular support for the Lebanese army shows a commitment that transcends the sectarian divide that has, among other things, prevented the election of a new president. The deployment of the Lebanese army into the Bekaa region was swift and decisive, and strongly backed by a near unanimous public.

Prime Minister of Lebanon Tammam Salam was firm that he would make no political deal with Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State (IS). Salam continued, "The only solution proposed today is the withdrawal of the militants from Arsal and its environs." Salam said the militants sought “to move their sick practices to Lebanon,” adding, “We confirm that the attack to Lebanese national dignity will not go unpunished.” Fourteen Lebanese soldiers have been killed, 22 are missing and 86 have been injured in the fighting.

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