Lebanese Forces Confiscate Weapons From Hezbollah in South

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The Lebanese Army has confiscated arms apparently belonging to Hezbollah in South Lebanon, Lebanese Defense Minister Michel al-Murr said Tuesday.

Asked by journalists to confirm reports to that effect, Murr said: "The reports in the media about arms confiscated were correct." This is the first time the Lebanese Army has been known to take away arms belonging to any forces in Lebanon.

Murr declined to provide further details, telling reporters only, "We perform our duties and our job properly. It is a natural thing. This is our task to confiscate all the arms."

There are armed groups besides Hezbollah operating in South Lebanon, among them Palestinian groups. Most concentrate their activity within the Palestinian refugee camps.

The issue of Hezbollah's weapons is at the center of the dispute between the militia and its Lebanese opponents. The organization has pledged to make sure its weapons are kept out of sight, but has warned the Lebanese Army not to search for them. However, several senior members of the organization, including Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, have emphasized that Hezbollah is secretly maintaining its military capability and will make use of it in wartime against Israel.

The Lebanese Army deployed in the country's south in August, at the end of the war, for the first time in decades, but the government did not stipulate that it must search for Hezbollah's arms. Murr on Tuesday praised Hezbollah for its conduct. "We can confirm that the resistance is cooperating by refraining from displaying arms," he said.