Syrian refugees protest against Lebanese army crackdown in Arsal

Published September 26th, 2014 - 02:07 GMT

An ongoing Lebanese army crackdown on Islamist militants has sparked a protest by Syrian refugees in the northeastern border town of Arsal.

A crowd of about 150 refugees gathered at Arsal's main square after Friday prayers, shouting: "Oh God, have mercy on us."

Arsal residents, who called for a massive rally after the prayers to protest the military measures, were apparently told not to join the protest.

Thursday night, Lebanese troops briefly clashed with militants scattered in the rugged terrain on the outermost edge of Arsal, while soldiers were raiding suspected militant hideouts in a Syrian refugee camp in the Wadi Hmeid neighborhood of the town.

It was not immediately clear whether any arrests were made.

A gathering of Sunni sheikhs has criticized the army measures, calling it “collective punishment” of Syrian refugees.

The army intensified its crackdown on militants in and around Arsal and in northern Lebanon Thursday after last month’s brief takeover of the town by jihadists from ISIS and the Nusra Front.

The military announced Thursday that it had arrested 22 individuals for allegedly belonging to terrorist groups that fought the army.

Syrian warplanes also carried out three air raids on militant hideouts in Wadi Rahwe and Wadi Zamran on Arsal's outskirts between 9:30 and 10am Friday.


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