State-run media announced that security measures were increased in the Ain Al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp near Sidon on Saturday, September 16. According to the media, Lebanese soldiers are searching all incoming and outgoing vehicles at the camp. The additional checks are reportedly causing significant traffic delays in the area. Army intelligence officers carried out a series of raids in the camp on Friday, September 15, detaining 19 people suspected of being linked to an Islamic State (IS) cell.
A number of Western countries including the US, UK, France, and Canada issued warnings to their citizens regarding an elevated terrorist risk in Lebanon on Thursday, September 14. According to Lebanese security officials, members of the cell dismantled in Ain Al-Hilweh were planning and preparing to conduct attacks in the country.
Ain Al-Hilweh is home to over 61,000 Palestinians, and clashes are regularly reported at the site attributed to extremist groups that have settled there over the years. Under an agreement dating back to 1969, the Lebanese army is not permitted to enter the 12 Palestinian refugee camps in the country, where security is provided by Palestinian factions including Fatah and Hamas. The joint security force has been trying for months to limit the influence of the Badr group.
Individuals in Lebanon are advised to avoid all refugee camps and their surrounding areas due to the threat of violence and unrest.
On a more general note, due to the threat of terrorism, some Western governments advise their nationals against travel to the city of Tripoli, as well as Beirut's southern districts, southern Lebanon, and the country's eastern regions (including Baalbek, Hermel, Majdel, and Rachaiya). If a security operation is in progress, individuals are advised to leave the area immediately and follow instructions from authorities.
Copyright and Disclaimer