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Syria seeks arrest of Lebanese former PM Hariri

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syria has issued arrest warrants against former Lebanese prime minister Saad al-Hariri and a close political ally for “terrorist crimes” of financing and arming rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad, the state news agency SANA said.

It said the warrants against Hariri, Oqab Saqr and rebel Louay Meqdad had been sent to the international police agency Interpol. Lebanon is deeply divided over the revolt in Syria.

Hariri, whose Lebanese unity government was toppled in January last year when pro-Assad parties pulled out of the cabinet, has been an active opponent of the Syrian president since Syria’s uprising erupted 20 months ago.

Rebels have privately named some Lebanese politicians including Saqr, a member of Hariri’s Future Movement who has been based in Syria’s northern neighbour Turkey for months, as a channel for arms supplied to Assad’s opponents from outside.

Saqr says he has provided only humanitarian aid and that taped conversations with Meqdad in which they appeared to discuss weapons supplies, aired by a Lebanese television two weeks ago, had been doctored.

“(Syria’s) prosecutor-general was informed after the recordings uncovered the involvement of (the three men) in providing money and weapons to the terrorists in Syria,” SANA quoted Attorney-General Mohammad Marwan al-Loji as saying.

Loji said the recordings also showed Hariri, Saqr and Meqdad were involved in sending Lebanese fighters into Syria from Lebanon. Fourteen Lebanese and Palestinian gunmen were killed inside Syria last week, close to the Lebanese border.

“As soon as they heard the recordings, Lebanese authorities should have lifted (parliamentary) immunity against the deputies involved and handed them to the Lebanese or Syrian judiciary, in accordance with agreements between the two countries,” he said.

His comments came on the day that a Lebanese judge summoned two Syrian officers, including General Ali Mamlouk the head of Syria’s national security bureau, to a Beirut military court session on January 14.

The two men were indicted along with former Lebanese information minister Michel Samaha in August over a plot said to have been aimed at stoking violence in Lebanon.

Reporting by Dominic Evans; Editing by Mark Heinrich