Syrian army tells Lebanese villagers to flee
The mayor of Tfail said Saturday that the Syrian army ordered residents to evacuate in 48 hours before the military shells the tiny eastern border village in Lebanon.
"I received a phone call from someone from the Syrian army who told me that the remaining residents have until Sunday to evacuate the village," Ali Ashoum told The Daily Star.
Ashoum expressed surprise at the request, saying Syria troops as well as members of Hezbollah had surrounded the village.
Media reports said the Syrian army was preparing to storm the village in search of gunmen, but Ashoum said only 12 families remained in the village.
Dozens of families fled Tfail earlier this summer because of heavy shelling by the Syrian military. Most of the Lebanese refugees traveled via smuggling routes through Syria to reach the northeastern Lebanese town of Arsal, some 35 kilometers away from Tfail.
Tfail is located east of Brital, on a slice of land separated from the rest of Lebanon by the Eastern Mountain range and surrounded on three sides by Syria. The rugged terrain made it difficult for residents to connect to the rest of the country, forcing them to buy supplies from Syria.
The predominantly Sunni village is home to some 3,000 Lebanese residents and 5,000 Syrian refugees who have settled there in recent months.
Residents in the village called on the government to deploy Lebanese troops into Tfail to protect them, local media said.
The government, in close coordination with Hezbollah, was able to send food and medical supply into Tfail earlier this year after the village came under siege as a result of ongoing clashes between Syrian soldiers and rebel groups.