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Ambush on Lebanese Army Leaves Deaths and Question Marks

An attempt by the Lebanese Army to arrest a suspected kidnapper in the isolated Bekaa-valley town of Ersal has left three dead and almost a dozen injured. Conflicting stories abound and questions remain as to what’s next in the town that has found itself dangerously close to the Syrian battleground.

On 1 February 2013, a few minutes before Friday prayers, none of the residents of the Lebanese town of Ersal thought that their day of rest and devotion would turn into a funeral.

Nobody expected the slaughter of the Lebanese army. The soldiers did not think of raising their guns in the faces of village residents. But the reality remains that Ersal, located in the Bekaa, witnessed a battle between the Lebanese army and some of its residents. It claimed the lives of one officer, one soldier, and one suspect.

Each side had its own story but the outcome was the same: three killed and ten injured.

Residents say that a BMW and a Toyota van drove into town to arrest Khaled Ahmad Hmayed. According to the residents, he was on his way to prayers when he was shot by gunmen from both cars. The gunmen then took Hmayed’s body and headed towards the Ersal hillside.

This led to suspicions among some residents that the gunmen were Syrian mukhabarat, or intelligence services, who kidnapped Hmayed due to his involvement in the Syrian revolution.

Some claimed that the army had been contacted, but it denied sending a patrol to Ersal. This validated suspicions that a third party was trying to sabotage the security situation in Ersal leading to an unintended clash.

The Lebanese army contests this story, and believes its patrol was attacked during the arrest of Hmayed, according to informed security sources.

Hmayed is suspected of having ties to Hussein Houjeiri, who is linked to al-Qaeda operatives in Iraq and thought to be the mastermind behind the Estonian hostage operation.In a statement, the Directorate of Guidance in the Lebanese Army said: “This afternoon [1 February 2013], while a Lebanese army patrol was chasing someone suspected by the courts of several terrorist operations in the outskirts of the town of Ersal, the patrol fell into an armed ambush. Clashes erupted between the Lebanese army and the gunmen, resulting in the martyrdom of a captain and a lieutenant, in addition to wounding several soldiers and serious damages to military vehicles. Several insurgents were also wounded.”

Speaking to Al-Akhbar, sources indicated that Hmayed, suspected of being involved in the kidnapping of seven Estonians around two years ago, was being tracked by security forces.

Hmayed is suspected of having ties to Hussein Houjeiri, who is linked to al-Qaeda operatives in Iraq and thought to be the mastermind behind the Estonian hostage operation.

Over a year ago, Hmayed had been involved in another incident in Ersal when the Lebanese army attempted to arrest the Syrian suspect Hamza Qarqouz. Back then, an army intelligence patrol was surrounded, disarmed, its vehicles damaged, and prevented from arresting Qarqouz.
The security sources maintain that Hmayed is an active supporter of the Syrian revolution on the ground. Returning to Ersal two days ago, his presence was intercepted and a plan to arrest him was initiated.

According to the sources, an army intelligence patrol drove to Ersal to arrest the suspect and he was shot while attempting to escape. The patrol left, but lost its way, so it asked for assistance from an armored patrol, which was ready to intervene in emergency situations.

This led to suspicions among some residents that the gunmen were Syrian mukhabarat, or intelligence services.The sources explained that the patrol’s entry and exit routes would follow side routes for security reasons. But it was attacked and chased by dozens of armed men who clashed with the armored patrol. The exchange lasted 20 minutes and resulted in the death of a captain and a lieutenant, injuring more than eight soldiers.

The residents of Ersal were not satisfied by this semi-official tale of the events and some of them still insist on a third side. Speaking to Al-Akhbar, municipality members said that, upon hearing the news of the clashes, some residents ran to the scene and carried the bodies of the army martyrs and the wounded to the municipal building to provide first aid.

This contradicts with the recent televised statements of Ali al-Houjeiri, the head of the municipality. He said that unknown gunmen forced the municipal building’s janitor to open its doors, where they placed the bodies of the two army martyrs and the wounded.
Houjeiri also used the same justification of the incident 13 months ago, saying that those who shot at the patrol, trying to arrest another suspect, were not aware that it belonged to the Lebanese army.

The head of the municipality also had announced last May, in a speech carried by most Lebanese media, that the residents of Ersal will use arms to prevent any attempt to arrest any of them…JA

– The above information were posted by real Syrian activists from Syria & around the world, not by western intelligent post offices duped activists.

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