Lebanon increases security at border with Syria

Published March 16th, 2014 - 04:00 GMT
Syrian rebels recently lost control of the town of Yabroud. (AFP/File)
Syrian rebels recently lost control of the town of Yabroud. (AFP/File)

Syrian rebels fleeing Yabroud in the Qalamoun region raced toward the Lebanese border town of Arsal Sunday, prompting boosted measures along the border by Lebanon’s army, security sources said.

Hundreds of rebels were seen on Arsal’s outskirts by morning, the sources said, after reports that regime troops had seized full control of Yabroud, the last rebel-held town along Lebanon’s border.

The Syrian army later launched two air raids on remote locations on Arsal’s outskirts in a bid to prevent the approach to the pro-rebel town, the sources said, adding that there were no reported casualties.

The Lebanese Army closed most of the border crossings into Arsal to prevent any rebel infiltration, the sources said.

Using sandbags, soldiers also sealed the town’s sole entrance to the west, preventing any possible rebel encroachment to nearby towns such as Labweh, a mainly Shiite village that backs Hezbollah, they added.

LBCI television quoted Labweh’s mayor, Ramez Amhaz, as saying the sand bags and security measures were “a natural reaction” to the presence of gunmen on the outskirts of Arsal.

“The state is our sole guarantor and it is the only authority capable of arresting gunmen,” Amhaz said.

He added that the town’s residents were cooperating with security forces to “defend” the town from any possible action against it.

The measures on both sides of the border came as Syrian state television reported Syrian regime troops had seized full control of the rebel bastion of Yabroud in Damascus province.

Yabroud was seen as the last rebel-held town along the border with Lebanon.

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