News / Middle East

Hundreds Flee as Lebanon Battles Syrian Rebels

Smoke rises from a Lebanese army base as Lebanese Army soldiers clash with Islamist militants on the mountains next to the entrance of Arsal, August 3, 2014.
Smoke rises from a Lebanese army base as Lebanese Army soldiers clash with Islamist militants on the mountains next to the entrance of Arsal, August 3, 2014.
VOA News

Hundreds of Lebanese civilians and Syrian refugees fled a Lebanese border town Monday as fierce fighting raged there for a third day.

Syrian rebels killed 10 Lebanese soldiers in a cross-border raid that involved some of the worst spillover of violence since Syria's civil war broke out three years ago. Thirteen soldiers are missing.

The fighting erupted Saturday in Arsal after the rebels were angered by the Lebanese detention of a Syrian, Imad Ahmad Jomaa, who is believed to be a member of al-Qaida's Syrian affiliate, Al-Nusra Front. It is one of the most powerful groups fighting to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Lebanese officials said Sunday they believe the Syrian rebels have captured at least 12 members of Lebanese security forces.

The Lebanese army warned of the seriousness of fighting and vowed to keep the Syrian conflict from spreading into its much-smaller country.

The U.S. State Department strongly condemned the rebels' attack, calling on all the warring sides to respect Beirut's policy of "dissociation" from the fighting in Syria. 

Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam called the raid an attack against Lebanon and its people.

Salam says his government will not tolerate chaos and let matters get out of control. He says the army is working to restore security and stability in the Arsal region.

Violence stemming from the fighting in Syria often spills over into Lebanon.

Lebanese-based Hezbollah extremists have fought alongside Syrian government forces against the rebels trying to topple the Assad government.

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