Last Updated: Wed Dec 15, 2010 22:46 pm (KSA) 19:46 pm (GMT)

Lebanon army dismantles Israeli "espionage devices"

The spying devices were found on Mount Sannine, northeast of Beirut (File)
The spying devices were found on Mount Sannine, northeast of Beirut (File)

The Lebanese army said on Wednesday it dismantled two "espionage devices" that Israel had placed on top of two of the country's mountains, acting on an alert from Hezbollah.

"Earlier today, military intelligence discovered the two devices and dismantled them," an army spokesman told AFP, without specifying the nature of the equipment.

The spying devices were found on Mount Sannine, northeast of Beirut, and the Barouk Mountain, east of the capital, he added.

An army statement said the device on Mount Sannine consisted of visual emission and reception parts. The second device was "more complicated," it added, without elaborating.

It said the military had been alerted to their existence by Hezbollah, which has been cooperating closely with army intelligence since the launch of a national crackdown on alleged Israeli spy rings in 2009.

The Shiite militant Hezbollah has accused its arch-enemy Israel of having infiltrated the country's telecom sector.

On December 3, the Israeli army detonated two of its spy devices in southern Lebanon, slightly injuring two passers-by, after Hezbollah uncovered their location near the coastal city of Tyre.

The movement hailed the discovery as "another achievement" of its counter-espionage teams.

Vote postponed

 The president felt it would be to no avail to open the matter to a vote, and therefore adjourned the meeting until further notice 
Lebanese Information Minister Tareq Mitri

Wednesday's incident came amid high tension in Lebanon over impending indictments by a U.N.-backed probe into the 2005 assassination of ex-premier Rafiq Hariri.

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) is allegedly set to implicate high-ranking members of Hezbollah in the killing, a move the party has repeatedly warned against.

Lebanon's divided cabinet on Wednesday postponed a vote on alleged bogus testimony given to U.N. investigators probing the 2005 murder of former premier Rafiq Hariri.

President Michel Suleiman declared the session adjourned after feuding ministers failed to agree on whether to launch an inquiry by Lebanon's highest court into alleged "false witnesses" who testified to U.N. investigators.

"The president felt it would be to no avail to open the matter to a vote, and therefore adjourned the meeting until further notice," Information Minister Tareq Mitri told reporters after the session.

The ministers met after more than a month of political wrangling over the U.N.-backed STL, expected to issue an indictment implicating Hezbollah operatives in the Beirut bombing that killed Hariri and 22 others.

Hezbollah has warned it will regard any charges against its members as an attack on the Shiite militant group.

Pro-Western Prime Minister Saad Hariri -- son of the slain ex-premier -- heads a majority alliance which is standing firm against Hezbollah's demand for a vote, which they say merely aims to torpedo the troubled STL.

But with political alliances having shifted over the past year, the pro-Hezbollah camp within the government could now tie or even win a cabinet vote against the rival Hariri coalition.

The president has urged the rival camps in the unity government to resolve the issue amicably without a vote.

Hezbollah, which fought a devastating one-month war with Israel in 2006, has accused the STL, which has based its indictments on extensive telecommunications evidence, of being part of a U.S.-Israeli plot.

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