Condemnations as Hizballah launches own police force in Beirut
Hizballah forces carried out a series of drug raids in Dahieh on Friday night without any Lebanese security forces present.
Around fifty masked fighters from the Abbas brigade, heavily armed with machine guns, made their first ever patrol around a number of drug warehouses in Beirut's southern suburbs.
The south of Beirut has long been under Hizballah's control, while the militant group itself has also been routinely criticised for its alleged connections to cannabis farming and trafficking.
A former justice minister, Ashraf Rifi, said on Saturday that the raids demonstrated the current ability - or lack thereof - of the Lebanese state's security forces.
"We ask him [President Michel Aoun]: Does what he [Hizballah Secretary-General, Hassan Nasrallah] said about the inability of the Lebanese Army to defend Lebanon also apply to the Internal Security Forces (ISF)?" Rifi told Lebanon's The Daily Star.
It is not currently known if the raid is the start of a new routine or if it was a one off.
The Lebanese ISF conducted similar raids in the southern suburbs of Beirut a few weeks ago however the area is generally considered to be off limits to any forces other than Hizballah.
Anonymous military sources told The Daily Star that a new security plan for Hizballah areas, including south Beirut and the Bekaa Valley, had been recently "reactivated" - leading to a number of arrests and raids.
Regarding the strong state and strong president and so on,
Is there anything stronger than the sight of Hizballah's "Security forces" carrying out raids in Beirut last night?
"It is true that we are carrying out a campaign. We have the fugitive's names and where they might be present. We are raiding their whereabouts," the source said.
The security plan dates back to 2015, with Army checkpoints established to monitor the movement of outlaws and criminals. This plan broke down due to a political vacuum created by the recent lack of a Lebanese president.
The military source added there was an alleged history of unofficial "co-ordination" between Hizballah and the ISF.