Lebanon’s new security perimeter hinders access of Islamic extremists to Europe

Lebanon has recently established a new security perimeter zone alongside its north-eastern boundaries. This move acts as an additional security guarantee against the presence of illicit activities in the mountainous areas adjacent to the Lebanese-Syrian border. Cross-border crossings from these areas facilitated the surrender of Syrian and Iraqi territories to the hands of Islamic State (IS) militia groups at the height of the Syria’s civil war.

The new defensive line incorporates 76 watchtowers and border control patrol bases equipped with the latest surveillance technology, including satellite supervision of the area.  The security perimeter will facilitate the conduct of Lebanese army operations to curb the expansion of illegal cross-border activities, especially the presence of smuggling networks. Today, smuggling networks use the mountainous paths of the Lebanese-Syrian border to direct former terrorists and weapons towards the European route. The security perimeter establishment will ensure a first line of defence against such activities. Its establishment also coincides with the progressive elimination of IS forces from Syria and Iraq, forcing former IS militias to seek exodus from the battlefields, masked as refugees, in the Lebanese-Syrian border. This development, underscores the necessity of investing in this defence perimeter which will also improve security conditions within Lebanese soil.

The border protection initiative was undertaken by the British government in its mandate to assist the Lebanese armed forces counter the operation of IS radicalist cells in the country. More than $83 million have been expended in border surveillance equipment, infrastructural modernisation of watchtowers, security checkpoints and border fences. British and Canadian security officials have also undertaken the successful training of Lebanese army officials in cross-border counter-terrorism and counter-smuggling operations.

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