Army Commander Aoun: I Want to Windup the File of Abducted Servicemen

Newly appointed Army Commander General Joseph Aoun stressed his adamant will to uncover the fate of the Lebanese abducted servicemen regardless what their fate turns out to be, as he said his focus will concentrate on distancing the army from political interference.

“The file has been an obsession for me even before taking responsibility (as army commander), I want to close this file whether the servicemen are alive or martyrs,” he told al-Akhbar daily in an interview on Monday.

“It’s a mission that must be accomplished. I will hold contacts with General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim to complete this file. This is a wound that must be closed, knowing there isn’t an honest mediator right now between the Army and the abductors,” he added.

The IS group and al-Nusra Front, which re-branded itself as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham in July when it split from the al-Qaida movement, abducted over 30 servicemen in clashes with the Lebanese army in the northeastern border town of Arsal in August 2014.

Sixteen held by the Jabhat Fateh al-Islam were freed in December 2015 through a Qatari-mediated deal that also included a prisoner swap to release a number of inmates from Lebanese jails.

The two groups had previously executed four of the hostages.

Nine hostages are still being held by the IS and their families do not know much about their fate.

The new military chief who was appointed in March

About his vision and what he plans for the military institution, the new military chief said: “I came from a military establishment and I know the problems it suffers from. Apart from the basic issue of interest to the army in facing the Israeli enemy, my interest is focused on combating terrorism, maintaining security in Lebanon and on the border, and in revealing the fate of the abducted soldiers.

“Internally, emphasis must be placed on strengthening the military’s capabilities and improving military medical treatment. The most important thing we will work on is the army’s independence and distancing it from political interference and discord, and strengthening confidence in the decision of the institution away from any external factors.”