Syrian rebels attack Lebanese army in Arsal

Published August 28th, 2014 - 11:11 GMT

he Lebanese Army clashed with Syrian rebels Thursday after the military shelled the militants' hideouts in the outskirts of the northeastern border region of Arsal.

The fighting erupted after an Army vehicle came under fire in Al-Rahwe, prompting soldiers to return fire, a security source said.

The Army was bombarding militant positions in Aqabat al-Jurd Thursday afternoon, hours after the military shelled hideouts in Wadi Hmeid, Wadi Zaarour and Aqabit Nouh, in the deep highlands of Arsal, security sources told The Daily Star.

The sources said Hezbollah also fired rockets from Miqraq and Zabboud, near the Bekaa Valley town of Labweh, on the same militant positions overnight. There was no immediate word on casualties.

Heavy clashes broke out after midnight between Hezbollah fighters backed by Syrian regime forces and rebels, according to the sources, who said the fighting centered in Lebanese territory facing the Syrian border town of Flita.

Sources in the eastern town of Hermel said Syrian warplanes dropped barrel bombs on areas where many Syrian opposition fighters were entrenched, including the outskirts of Arsal, Wadi Hmeid and Ajram.

The overnight shelling was the first confrontation between the Army and militants since ISIS and Nusra Front retreated from Arsal following five days of deadly clashes earlier this month.

The militants are holding 29 Lebanese soldiers and policemen captive. They are demanding that Lebanon release Islamist prisoners held in Lebanese jails in return for the soldiers' freedom.

Meanwhile, an armed Syrian was killed and two others were wounded after a van carrying 10 Syrians and three Lebanese crossed into Lebanon illegally through the Wadi Ata village in Rashaya, east of the country, according to a security source.

Although the group failed to stop at a military checkpoint, it was not clear whether the Lebanese Army or a group of local gunmen fired at the van.

Army Intelligence arrested the wounded Syrians and Lebanese men.

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