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Security Meeting Held in Lebanon to Address Illegal Border Crossings

Security Meeting Held in Lebanon to Address Illegal Border Crossings

Tuesday, 10 September, 2019 - 06:15
Lebanon’s Defense Minister chairs a security meeting devoted to discussing the illegitimate cross-points in Lebanon. (Dalati & Nohra)
Beirut - Asharq Al-Awsat
Lebanese Defense Minister Elias Bou Saab said Monday that only eight to 10 illegal border crossings remain after the army closed the majority of them.

“The army has shut more than 140 crossings, or about 95 percent of them. It has also set up 74 border checkpoints in cooperation with foreign aid," he told the press after a security meeting devoted to discussing the illegal crossings and that included army commander General Joseph Aoun and top security chiefs.

“Of course, activating the border surveillance points requires first and foremost a political decision and then additional equipment for the army, especially since the area is difficult to access,” Bou Saab said.

Moreover, he noted that smuggling operations, worth up to 2.5 billion dollars, do not take place through the illegal crossings.

He said the demarcation of the border with Syria requires cooperation between the Lebanese and Syrian armies.

Bou Saab explained that Monday’s meeting was a preliminary one prior to a security meeting expected to be held next Wednesday with Prime Minister Saad Hariri and all the concerned security apparatuses, as well as Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil, Interior Minister Raya al-Hassan, and himself.

“I would like to clarify that crossings in major countries cannot be completely controlled. The border issue is very challenging, especially since the area is very mountainous and vast,” he added, revealing that he had made three visits to the area to gather data and facts.

He said a new list on the crossings that have been closed and those that are still open will be compiled and he will present it during the next Supreme Defense Council meeting.

Hariri had last week declared that some 150 illegal crossings exist along the border with Syria. Hassan Khalil had put the figure at 136.

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