Sunday Aug 07, 201106:32 PM GMT
Arms cargo seized en route Syria
Sun Aug 7, 2011 9:45AM
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The Syrian army displays weapons seized from armed gangs in Jisr al-Shughour, north of the capital, Damascus, June 13, 2011.
Reports from Lebanon say the army has seized a second cargo of weapons bound for Syria, following another arms shipment intended for the country that was confiscated earlier in the day.

Meanwhile, the Lebanese military prosecutor general has charged two Lebanese men with smuggling weapons to Syria, a Press TV correspondent reported.

Lebanese security sources said the two Lebanese nationals were arrested as they were preparing to smuggle weapons to the Syrian city of Banyas.

The Lebanese army reportedly arrested the smugglers last Friday after they received a delivery of weapons at Beirut's port.

After being interrogated, the two men confessed to transporting weapons from Beirut's seaport to the Syrian coastal city of Banyas over 30 times.

Customs officials later released a statement explaining that the confiscated shipment contained 248 pieces of arms including sniper rifles, pump-action rifles and huge amounts of ammo and plastic explosives.

Analysts have raised concern about the destination of the smuggled weapons, saying Banyas is the hometown of Abdul-Halim Khaddam -- Syria's dissident former vice president who is known as a harsh critic of current Syrian government.

The smugglers are said to be from the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, which has recently been the scene of protests against Syria.

Security sources added that the smugglers are affiliated with prominent groups that were part of the former Lebanese parliamentary majority, in a reference to former Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri's Future movement, which has many supporters in Tripoli.

"The relationship between the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and the former Syrian Vice President Abdul-Halim Khaddam was very close. In fact, it's also well known that Khaddam was of the payroll of Hariri and it is worth reporting that during the funeral of Rafiq Hariri the only Syrian official that attended was Khaddam," Professor of political sciences at the American University of Beirut Hilal Khashan said.

"Future Movement and the Hariri family have ever been known for smuggling arms. This is just an attempt to tarnish the image of the movement and the Hariri family," Future Movement media coordinator Rached Fayyed said.

In April, the Syrian state TV aired footage of three men confessing to receiving money and weapons from a Lebanese lawmaker from the Future movement, in order to carry out acts of violence in Syria.

However, sources from the Future movement have rejected the allegations, insisting that they have played no such role in Syria's affairs.

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