ISIL, Nusra Front clash at Syria-Lebanon border, 11 killed by government air strikes

Published December 17th, 2014 - 02:33 GMT

Syrian army air strikes against militant positions across the border from Lebanon's northeastern town of Arsal killed 11 and wounded 17 Wednesday, a high-ranking Lebanese security source said, as clashes raged between rival jihadi groups in the Qalamoun region.

The source said ISIS and Nusra Front militants were fighting at three areas in Syria's rugged Qalamoun region along the border with Lebanon.

Nusra, Al-Qaeda's official affiliate in Syria, has had an on-again, off-again relationship with ISIS since the two had a falling out last year over loyalties when ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi tried to absorb Nusra.

Militants from both groups are holding about 25 Lebanese soldiers and policemen on the outskirts of Arsal, where the groups remain allied.

The groups are thought to be keeping the hostages in two different locations, but have taken a uniform position over negotiations with Lebanon.

But the clashes signal a further deterioration of their relations after reports emerged of enhanced cooperation between the two in the wake of US-led coalition airstrikes in Syria three months ago.

Meanwhile Syria's air force struck several locations east of Arsal, the source added.

He said the air strikes resulted in 11 deaths and 17 wounded, and occurred on the Syrian side of the border. The source did not know the affiliations of those killed.

The Syrian army has upped its air strikes along the Qalamoun region since ousting militants from their former stronghold of Yabroud in March.

The rebel fighters were driven westward into the Qalamoun mountain range near the Lebanese border after their defeat at Yabroud by Syrian and Hezbollah forces.

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