New security measures spark clashes between Arsal residents and army

Published December 29th, 2014 - 10:00 GMT

Arsal residents briefly clashed with the Army in the outskirts of the town Monday over new security measures set to go into effect, despite assurances from the military the day before that the decision would not target those with legitimate interests in visiting the area.

A number of Arsal’s residents demonstrated against the new measure near an Army outpost in Wadi Hmeid, where troops fired shots in the air to disperse them, the National News Agency reported.

The incident escalated into fistfights and beatings in which three residents were injured, when protesters refused to stand down, NNA said. Several protesters were arrested and three were injured.

Arsal’s Mayor Ali Hujeiri rejected the new measure as impossible to enact.

“The decision preventing Lebanese and Syrians to go to in and out of Arsal’s outskirts unless granted a permit by the Army Intelligence cannot be implemented,” Hujeiri said in an interview with Voice of Lebanon radio station Monday.

The Army announced Sunday that the measure, which is aimed at controlling movement in and out of Arsal’s outskirts, where Syrian jihadi militants holding Lebanese servicemen are holed up, would take effect in 2015.

Many Arsal residents who own orchards and quarries and need to cross to the outskirts daily fear the measure will impede their work.

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