(JNS.org) A secret squad of ex-British military members helped save a Lebanese Christian town from an Islamic State invasion last summer, according to a report published earlier this week by the British daily The Telegraph.
The report said that a squad of ex-British soldiers worked to construct a series of 12 watchtowers along the Lebanese-Syrian border during a 17-day period in July, just two weeks before the onslaught of Islamic State jihadists.
The towers enabled the Lebanese army to stop the invasion of Islamic State terrorists, including being able to cut off their advance toward the Lebanese Christian village of Ras Baalbek.
“When the invasion came, a line of vehicles split off and headed for Ras Baalbek,” one of the British team members said, The Telegraph reported. “Then they stopped and looked up at the watchtower and all its artillery waiting for them. They turned around.”
Ras Baalbek is a small village home to approximately 5,000 Christians in Lebanon’s northern Beqaa Valley. It is home to a Christian monastery as well as two Byzantine-era churches.
"During the time of the crisis, the watchtowers helped to protect us," Faris Mansour, a 76-year-old Christian from Ras Baalbek, said.
Tom Fletcher, the British ambassador to Lebanon, said he believed the watchtowers played a role in preventing a massacre in Ras Baalbek.
“They [Islamic State] want these big symbolic victories — you bust through a border, you carry out a massacre and you get the attention," he said.
According to an ex-British soldier who worked on the project, the watchtowers were each constructed using six shipping containers welded together for a cost around £150,000 ($236,000).