Hezbollah and Amal militants held a drill meant to simulate a military takeover of Beirut, Lebanese media reported Wednesday. It is feared Hezbollah is training towards the publication of international indictments for the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.
Tensions in Lebanon are mounting after the indictment drafts were filed with the International Court of Justice. Lebanon is waiting for the publications of the papers and a decision on whether to launch public legal proceedings.
Hezbollah has resigned from Saad Hariri's government in an attempt to push the leader to renounce the international tribunal's investigation.
According to a Kuwaiti newspaper and Lebanese media, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah is preparing for the possibility Hezbollah will be indicted, and not just on the political level.
Sources close to the group said that the drill was "a real and weaponless maneuver meant to test the plan to take over Beirut and its surroundings including the port and airport. The sources said the exercise was scheduled to last four hours, but eventually ended after two, and hailed a success.
The drill was conducted in the early morning hours on Tuesday. When word of the drill spread across Beirut panic took over and many residents pulled their kids from their schools.
"This maneuver illustrates the fact that Hezbollah has moved on to a new stage in dealing with the indictments," a Lebanese source said. "Nasrallah has already stressed that the stage after the indictments are filed will not be as same as the previous one." The sources added this was not the last drill.
UN to be targeted?
The Lebanese source further noted that among the possible targets of a Hezbollah attack were UN institutions in Lebanon. "Hezbollah has made it clear it will avoid any action which would lead to a civil war and that is why it is inclined to face the UN and the ICJ directly."
Lebanese newspaper Al Liwa also reported that the UN will be targeted. A source close to Hezbollah told Lebanese MTV that the UN will be the group's next target.
Meanwhile, Nasrallah met the Turkish foreign minister and the Qatari prime minister who are both visiting Lebanon. A statement issued by Hezbollah noted the three discussed the Lebanese crisis.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has halted any efforts to promote a solution in the region. The Saudi foreign minister said his country has stopped interfering.
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