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Middle East

Lebanon's Tammam Salam calls for help to fight jihadists

media Lebanon's Prime Minister Tammam Salam Reuters/Jamal Saidi

In Lebanon, Prime Minister Tammam Salam has appealed for increased outside help to fight jihadist elements in the country. This, ahead of a scheduled visit to France later this week.

On Monday, Salam reportedly said that although militant groups like the Islamic State militia and the Al-Nusra Front will not conquer Lebanon... they could succeed in weakening the country.

Meanwhile, the Lebanese Army has besieged the area around the town of Arsal... in the hope of flushing out militants who are holding 26 Lebanese servicemen hostage in the border area with Syria.

On Monday, the Lebanese Armed Forces imposed a siege by blocking the roads around Arsal and using heavy artillery to strike at the area.

A car bomb also exploded in Arsal yesterday, wounding one man.

Despite suspicions that this was due to ties with local jihadist militants, local outlet the Daily Star reported that it was connected to a "personal dispute".

Islamic State militants and the Al-Nusra Front have held 26 soldiers and policemen hostage in the hills around Arsal since August, following a fierce battle with the Lebanese army.

Last week, Ola Mithqal al-Oqaily, the wife of Al-Nusra Front comander Anas Sharkas was arrested while crossing into Lebanon on fake documents, along with the ex-wife of Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State group. One hostage, the policeman Ali Bazzal, was shot dead by the Al-Nusra Front on Friday, in response to their arrest.

Yesterday, Al-Oqaily was transferred to Lebanon's General Security branch, in the hope of arranging a prisoner swap to free the remaining hostages.

Meanwhile, France is due to deliver 2.5 billion euros in arms to Lebanon in the coming weeks to help battle jihadist militants.

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