Lebanese police find 30 burnt bodies in Arsal
At least 30 charred bodies were discovered at a Syrian refugee camp near the northeastern border town of Arsal after a lull in fighting between the Lebanese army and jihadists allowed police to inspect the site, a security source said Thursday.
The source said police counted at least 30 bodies at the informal refugee camp dubbed “Bdadine-4” near Wadi Hmeid, on Arsal’s outskirts.
They were apparently killed by shell fire during the fighting that pitted Lebanese troops against jihadists from the Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS). ISIS militants withdrew from Arsal Thursday following a 90-minute battle with the Lebanese army that ended shortly after midnight.
Security sources said groups loyal to Imad Jomaa, the Syrian national whose arrest by the Lebanese army over the weekend triggered the battle in Arsal, pulled out toward the barren terrain following clashes with Lebanese troops around Wadi Sweid and Wadi Hosn, the farthest east points in Arsal, close to the border with Syria.
The five days of fighting - which was sparked by the arrest of a Syrian rebel commander Saturday, had deepened the humanitarian crisis in Arsal, which the U.N. refugee agency says is home to 42,000 registered Syrian refugees.
Thousands struggled to flee the violence, with many informal refugee camps coming under fire during the battles between the army and militants.
At least 17 soldiers, 50 militants and 12 civilians have been killed in the Arsal clashes, according to a security source.
By Nidal Al-Solh