Army in Major Hermel Crackdown in Search of Sergeant Killers

Tanks of the Lebanese airborne division drive in the east Lebanon village of Arsal, near the Syrian border on February 4, 2013. Lebanon's army chief Jean Kahwaji has warned that the military will "pursue" anyone who attacks it, after two troops were killed in a clash with Islamists in Arsal on February 1. AFP PHOTO/ STR / AFP PHOTO / -

Army troops and intelligence agents carried out a major crackdown at dawn Wednesday in the Hermel town of al-Qasr in search of culprits involved in the assassination of Sergeant Ali al-Qaq, state-run National News Agency reported.

Five people were arrested and quantities of arms and ammunition were seized in the raids, NNA said.

The army’s Airborne Regiment staged a second wave of raids in the afternoon that covered areas from the town of al-Qasr to the border crossing in the Matrabeh region, during which another five people were arrested and 10 motorcycles and three cars with no registration papers were seized, the agency reported.

The detainees and the seized vehicles were transferred to an army barracks in the region as the military continued to carry out patrols amid heightened measures on its checkpoints in Hermel, NNA said.

Al-Qaq was gunned down while on vacation in Damascus and members of the powerful Jaafar clan have claimed responsibility for the assassination, describing it as a vendetta killing.

Hadi Mohammed Jaafar, 19, had been killed by army fire around three months ago at a military intelligence checkpoint in Hermel. Members of the Jaafar clan accused Sergeant al-Qaq of firing the gunshots that resulted in Hadi’s death.