BEIRUT- Lebanese security forces have foiled plans by militants linked to Islamic State to carry out three suicide attacks in Beirut's southern suburbs, the interior minister said on Wednesday.

The plans for the attacks involved rocket-propelled grenades and gun fire as well as suicide vests rigged with explosives that would have killed many people, minister Bassam Mawlawi said.

The militant network involved was affiliated with Islamic State, he said.

That group, which controlled vast swathes of Iraq and Syria and a stretch of rugged mountains in northeast Lebanon from 2014 to 2017, claimed a twin suicide bombing in Beirut's southern suburbs in 2015 that killed more than 40 people.

The area is a support base of the Shiite Iran-backed Hezbollah group, which has fought mainly Sunni militants, including Islamic State, during Syria's civil war.

The network in Lebanon, in contact with Islamic State militants in Syria, had been told on Feb. 17 that the operation would be carried out within a few days, the Internal Security Forces (ISF) said in a presentation.

Two suspects were arrested the same day and are being held in custody, Mawlawi said. Explosives, weapons and munitions had also been seized.

(Reporting by Mahmoud Mourad and Timour Azhari; Writing by Timour Azhari, Editing by Alex Richardson and Angus MacSwan) (( @timourazhari; +96170191137;))