Clashes between Lebanese army and Syrian rebels break out at the border
Lebanese soldiers have fought with rebels near the Syrian border on Sunday in what is thought to be the first clashes between Lebanon and the Syrian opposition fighters.
Violence has frequently flared up in the border region, but so far fighting has been limited to the regular Syrian army.
The latest clash happened as Lebanese troops were patrolling along the border and rebels fired to stop the troops approaching, according to a Lebanese army official. There are so far no reports of causalities.
The border region between Syria and Lebanon is a key supply route for arms smuggled to the rebels inside Syria. Assad’s regime has criticised officials in Beirut for having a lax border policy, enabling weapons and fighters to reach rebel units.
Soldiers in the Lebanese army are divided between support for and against the Syrian regime.
Syrian State television also broadcast images on Sunday, which purported to show five dead bodies with Lebanese identification on them. It is thought the fighters are Salafis, killed in an ambush by Syrian government forces.
The broadcast said the men were killed in the Tal Kalakh area of the Homs governorate, although details remain unclear. A source told Lebanon’s Daily Star newspaper that three of the five men killed had been identified.
Syrian TV had said they were killed in an ambush, but no details have emerged how the men actually died. It also remains unclear how the men crossed over the border into Syria.
Sources close to Salafi groups in Lebanon have told the Daily star that the attacked happened after the Syrian regime where tipped off to the presence of the foreign fighters.
Syria previously annexed Lebanon, politically and military for 30 years, only withdrawing its troops in 2005, after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.