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Diplomats Tour Beirut Airport After UK Media Alleges Presence Of Hezbollah Weapons

Via The Cradle

Diplomatic and media delegations toured Beirut’s Rafic Hariri International Airport on Monday, one day after UK newspaper The Telegraph released a report claiming that Hezbollah had hidden weapons inside the facility. 

Lebanon’s Information Minister Ziad al-Makari, Foreign Minister Abdullah Bou Habib, Tourism Minister Walid Nassar, and other officials attended the airport tour. Several ambassadors and media correspondents, were also present. 

They were shown the main cargo centers, a site storing imported goods, and several locations in the vicinity of the airport. 

“The British Department of Transport is an official body concerned with transport. It visited Beirut Airport six months ago and viewed all its corners. It would have been more effective for this newspaper to rely on the Authority as a source in its article and not to unknown people and unknown parties,” Lebanese Transport Minister Ali Hamieh said during a press conference after the tour. 

He also reiterated what he said a day earlier, on Sunday, about consultations being held with Lebanon’s prime minister and legal teams to file a lawsuit against The Telegraph, adding: “What is happening is a psychological war against Lebanon… we have proven that the article is ridiculous.”

The UK newspaper cited “whistleblowers” from the airport on June 23 as saying they were concerned about increasing weapons deliveries coming into the country on direct flights from Iran, claiming they had seen “unusually big boxes” and the “increased presence of high-level Hezbollah commanders.”

The Telegraph quoted Lebanon’s International Air Transport Association (IATA) as saying that it has been aware of Hezbollah weapons at the airport “for years” but is unable to do anything about it. 

After the IATA announced that the quote was completely false, the daily edited the article, attributing the same quote to an unnamed “major international aviation body.”

Commenting on the allegations, a high-ranking Lebanese security official told sources on Sunday: “They spread lies to later justify any Israeli attack against Beirut airport because they want to isolate Lebanon. The enemy spreads these rumors as a kind of psychological warfare.”

A large group of foreign ambassadors toured several sites in the vicinity of Beirut airport in 2018 to refute Israeli claims about missile depots in the area. In 2020, after Benjamin Netanyahu claimed a residential area in the Lebanese capital was being used to store weapons, Hezbollah invited international and local media to visit the site, and no such weaponry was found.

Israel bombed Beirut’s Rafic Hariri International Airport at the start of the war between Hezbollah and Israel in 2006.

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The Cradle

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