February 8, 2015
This video shows fighters from the Nusra Front in the outskirts of the Lebanese of Arsal, located on the border with Syria, conducting maneuvers with live ammunition. Video also includes rare interviews with two members of the Nusra Front acknowledging that their group is holding Lebanese soldiers captive and accusing the Lebanese government and Hezbollah of thwarting negotiations to release them.
The fighters also claim that the Nusra Front is protecting the Syrian refugees in Arsal.
At least 40 Islamist fighters in the nearby border area of Ras Baalbek were killed in clashes with the Lebanese Army on January 23.
Fighters from the Nusra Front and the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, took control of Arsal in August 2014 for several days and kidnapped dozens of Lebanese soldiers and security officers and executed some of them. Lebanese government forces regained control of Arsal while hills outside the town are still controlled by fighters from these two groups.
On February 13, 2015, following the broadcast of this video, the Nusra Front said that the comments made in the interviews here do not represent the official position of the organization.
SHOTLIST AND TRANSCRIPT
- Various of streets in Arsal
- Traveling of Dawar al-Barmil street in Arsal; Islamic State flag graffiti can be seen on the wall
- Wide/ R-L pan of Arsal Municipality building
- Wide/ L-R pan of Arsal
- Various of fighters training to occupy military posts using live ammunition
- Close-up of fighters’ hands while making tea
- Close-up of fighter’s hands filling up a Kalashnikov magazine
SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Abu Bakr al-Mujahid, Nusra Front Fighter
04:09 – 05:06
“We are in Arsal because there are Syrian refugees. We are protecting them, God willing. What is more important is that Arsal is adjacent to Shiite villages, where there rawafidh [pejorative term for Shiites] and the Party of Satan [Hezbollah], who are slaughtering our children in Syria. We do not interfere in the politics of the Lebanese government. Had Hezbollah not intervened [in Syria] we would not have interfered with [Lebanese politics]. Concerning our numbers and equipment, we usually do not disclose information about this. These are military secrets. We are positioned on the frontlines adjacent to the Nussairi [Alawite] enemy in Syria. We ask God almighty to keep us steadfast and patient to exterminate this enemy.
SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Abu Qutada al-Ansari, Nusra Front Fighter
05:07 – 07:04
"We are present in Arsal because there are Syrian refugees. We take care of protecting and supporting them, with the will of God. More importantly, Arsal is adjacent to the rawafidh villages and the Safavid Party of Satan. We do not interfere in the policies of the Lebanese state. Had the Party of Satan not intervened [in Syria] we would not have interfered with [Lebanese politics].
In the name of God,
We did not kidnap Lebanese soldiers, but we are negotiating with the Lebanese government. We are currently holding [the Lebanese soldiers] and they are in our care. Our demands are clear and are not costly for the Lebanese state: let the men and women out of your prisons and you shall be given the Lebanese prisoners immediately. It is not us who are complicating things. It is your government which is placing hurdles in the way of releasing them [the Lebanese soldiers]. Unfortunately, the Party of Satan was able to drag the Lebanese State into things that have bad consequences. [Hezbollah] is placing obstacles and causing the failure of the negotiations. Nevertheless, negotiations are still ongoing but extremely slowly. As I told you before, it is not us who are causing the negotiations to fail. "