Lebanon News

Lebanese soldiers detained after Army unit seen beating suspect

BEIRUT: The military has launched an investigation and detained soldiers from an Army unit that allegedly recorded the beating of a person suspected of working with militant Sheikh Ahmad Assir, judicial sources said Thursday. 

The video from Sidon posted online Wednesday shows around a dozen soldiers and their commander outdoors in a ring around a handcuffed detainee asking him about his affiliation with Assir before hitting and kicking him. 

Several soldiers were seen recording the incident with their phones.

The soldiers appear to be wearing Lebanese Army equipment and military patches, but the authenticity of the video could not be independently verified.

An investigation into the incident has begun and soldiers from the Army unit seen in the video have been detained by military police, a judicial source told The Daily Star.

The Army is also expected to issue a statement on the incident soon, a military source said.

Assir and his militants in Abra, east of the southern city of Sidon, fought a two-day battle over the weekend against the military that killed 18 soldiers and more than 40 gunmen.

Assir’s whereabouts are unknown.

The detainee is seen sitting on the ground in the video while soldiers ask him where he was during the fighting and if he was paid by Assir.

The soldiers' questions become more hostile before they start laughing, call the detainee a liar and begin to kick him as he curls into the fetal position. 

An older solider in the group, apparently in charge, leads the questioning and looks on during the beating before he tells the troops to stop.

Earlier, the Army issued a statement denying claims it fought alongside fighters in Sidon.

"The Army was surprised by a cheap political and media campaign against it through doctored films, audio recordings and photographs on the Army’s entry into Abra [alleging] there were fighters fighting on its side,” the Army said in a statement.

“The Army fought alone in Sidon,” it said.

“As for the presence of civilians who were armed, the Army command would like to remind that members of Army Intelligence dress in civilian clothing and this has occurred in the past in several places,” it said.

It added that an internal military probe would be launched in the event of any breach of conduct by military members that could lead to “maximum disciplinary steps” being taken. 

 

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