Army chief General Joseph Aoun announced Friday that the catastrophic explosion at Beirut’s port could have been avoided had authorities acted in a different way.
“From the very first moments after the port blast, the army took charge of the area’s security, seeing as that was its responsibility, even without the presence of an (official) authorization,” Aoun said in Ras Baalbek, where he unveiled a statue honoring troops and citizens who fell in a battle to rout Islamic State militants from the town’s outskirts and in suicide blasts inside the town itself.
“The magnitude and size of the disaster made the port’s security, public safety and the search for survivors and missing people under the rubble its priority. We worked silently for several days, because words have no value compared to the blood of innocents, the moaning of the wounded and the tears of grief and pain,” the army chief added.
“We grieved with them, because we lost eight martyrs and we have more than 300 wounded (soldiers). We got angry with them because this tragedy could have been avoided,” Aoun went on to say.
He also noted that despite its several missions, which increased in number after the explosion, the army “will not allow terror to return” to the country.
“Our many responsibilities, which are an honor to us, will not deviate our attention from two enemies that do not rest whenever they seize chances: terrorism and the Israeli enemy,” Aoun pledged.