“Hezbollah” has handed over to the Lebanese army the prime suspect in a shooting at a vehicle of the United Nations Interim Force, which resulted in the killing of an Irish member, a security official told AFP.
The Lebanese security services had identified the suspects in the December 14 incident in the village of Al-Aqibiya, outside the UNIFIL area of operations in southern Lebanon, which is a major stronghold of Hezbollah, the main political force with a large army arsenal.
The security officer, who asked to remain anonymous because he is not authorized to speak on the matter, said: “The main shooter of the Unifil patrol was arrested by the security services, after Hezbollah handed him over” to the army during the in the past few hours, noting that his handover “happened in the context of Hezbollah cooperation.” God is with the investigation that Army Intelligence is conducting.
And he considered that the suspect “could be a partisan (ie an element of Hezbollah), so the party was able to arrest him and hand him over”.
After the killing of the Irish soldier, the party hastened to offer condolences to UNIFIL. And he called, through an official in it, not to involve him in the “unintentional” incident.
Skirmishes between UNIFIL patrols and party supporters occasionally occur in UNIFIL’s area of operations near the border in the south of the country, but they rarely escalate and are quickly contained by the Lebanese authorities.
UNIFIL had asked the Lebanese authorities to speed up the completion of the investigation and to call those responsible for the recent incident to account.
UNIFIL did not specify the details of what happened, while the Irish army reported that two armored cars with eight people on board were subjected to “small arms fire” while en route to Beirut.
The incident also resulted in three other members of the Irish Koutoubia being injured.
A Lebanese judicial source told France Press a few days ago that the patrol was monitored in advance, and was chased “by a car carrying armed men, and was harassed and intercepted at two points before arriving at the scene of the ‘accident’, noting that more than one person participated in the shooting, which lasted a long time. Seven automatic bullets, one of which hit the dead soldier in the head from behind.
The security officer confirmed that “the main suspect is available for investigation”, noting that “the preliminary investigations are nearing completion and could lead to the arrest of others”.