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Over 15 Israeli spy networks dismantled in massive Lebanese operation: Report

Lebanese security forces stand guard during an operation in Beirut, Lebanon, on March 8, 2017. (File photo by AP)

Lebanon’s security forces have dismantled more than 15 Israeli spy networks over the past few weeks, according to a report, marking one of the largest security operations in the Arab country since 2009.

Lebanon’s al-Akhbar newspaper reported on Monday that the Information Branch, the intelligence unit of the internal security forces, has “dismantled over 15 Israeli spy networks separated from each other,” which operated on Lebanese territories as well as in Syria.

According to the report, the operation, which was launched four weeks ago, is one of the largest security operations that have been carried out since 2009 when the Israeli Mossad’s spy networks collapsed one by one.

Despite the high number of suspects, the newspaper said, the officers of the Information Branch are trying to keep the operation under wraps by claiming that the detainees were held over fraud and drug offenses.

According to al-Akhbar, dozens of suspects were involved in the spy networks and “directly or indirectly and with or without prior knowledge” provided Israel with information on its targets, including the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah and the Palestinian resistance forces in Lebanon, especially the Hamas movement.

The investigations also found that the spy network had also penetrated into the Information Branch itself and got very close to its leadership.

The crackdown also saw a Syrian suspect arrested. The Damascus-based suspect admitted that he was monitoring civilian, military, and commercial sites and was sending maps from within the Syrian capital, but said that he was not aware of the goal behind collecting such information.

Syria and the Israeli regime are technically at war due to the latter’s 1967-present occupation of the Arab country’s Golan Heights. The Israeli regime maintains a significant military presence in the territory, which it uses as a launchpad for its attacks on Syrian soil. The attacks started to grow significantly in scale and frequency after 2011, when Syria found itself in the grip of rampant foreign-backed militancy and terrorism.

Tel Aviv claims that its attacks target alleged supplies that are headed for the Lebanese resistance movement of Hezbollah. On countless occasions, though, the strikes have targeted the reinforcement belonging to Syria’s military and its allies. The regime has also been providing safe passage and medical treatment to the Takfiri terrorists who fight the Damascus government.

Al-Akhbar said the number of those interrogated over the past month exceeded 35, and nearly 20 of them were held at the Information Branch while one was held by Hezbollah and another in Syria. The arrestees included Lebanese, Palestinian, and Syrian people.

The investigations showed that 12 of the detainees were aware that they were working with Israel, while the rest assumed they were working for international institutions or NGOs.

The report said the Information Branch is expected to provide the competent judicial authorities with investigation records in the coming hours as a prelude to the referral of the detainees to the military court.

The Israeli regime launched two wars on Lebanon in 2000 and 2006, which both saw Hezbollah inflicting heavy losses on the regime’s military.

The regime has been violating Lebanese airspace on an almost daily basis, carrying out what it calls “routine reconnaissance missions.”

Beirut has filed several complaints with the UN against Israeli violations of Lebanon’s sovereignty by land, sea, and air in defiance of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which brokered a ceasefire in Israel’s 2006 war and calls on Tel Aviv to respect Lebanese sovereignty and territorial integrity.

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