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Lebanon’s security forces pursuing smugglers, says interior minister

Saudi Arabia has banned the import of Lebanese agricultural products last month.

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Lebanon’s caretaker interior minister Mohammed Fahmi expressed to a news agency that he could not refute or confirm the involvement of Hezbollah in the smuggling of the Captagon shipment to Saudi Arabia, an operation thwarted by the Saudi authorities in late April.

Fahmi expressed that “investigations are underway, and their contents cannot be disclosed until now, fearing for the integrity of the investigation. Upon completion of all data and the initial investigation, we will speak. We hope that we will get the results soon.”

On Sunday, the minister of interior inspected the illegal crossing points on the borders with Syria, starting from the al-Fawj border center in Shedra, Akkar district to the town of Ras Baalbek.

He listened to a briefing from the regiment commander, col. Milad Saliba, about the military situation, the conditions of the legal crossing points, and the illegal routes at the Lebanese-Syrian border, through which smuggling operations regularly take place.

Fahmi said that “cross-border smuggling is a chronic problem that goes back to 1975, and no country can control its borders 100 percent.”

He said: “but we will activate border controls based on the directives of President Michel Aoun and the orders of the supreme defense council, and anyone responsible for any act of corruption or smuggling will be held accountable.”

The minister’s inspection tour comes after Saudi Arabia decided on April 23 to ban the import and transit of Lebanese fruits and vegetables due to an increase in drug smuggling operations and after millions of narcotic pills (Captagon) were seized inside pomegranate fruits.

Fahmi traveled by military helicopter to the Bekaa region to inspect the crossings and the sites where smuggling operations are active. He met with officers from the second border regiment command and listened to a detailed briefing about the security and military realities, and the situation on the crossings from the regiment’s commander, col. Mohammed Dahboul.

He concluded his tour by inspecting the army’s control tower in the Mastaba region in the outskirts of el-Qaa-Hermel.

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