News / Middle East

Lebanon Battles Syrian Rebels in Border Town

Lebanese army soldiers point towards the direction of the mountain where clashes is taking place with Islamist militants, near the entrance leading to Arsal, near the Syrian border in Lebanon, August 3, 2014.
Lebanese army soldiers point towards the direction of the mountain where clashes is taking place with Islamist militants, near the entrance leading to Arsal, near the Syrian border in Lebanon, August 3, 2014.
VOA News

Lebanese soldiers traded fire with Islamist gunmen and shelled areas around the border town of Arsal on Sunday in a push to dislodge the biggest incursion by militants into Lebanon since Syria's civil war began.

The fighting erupted Saturday at the border town of 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.

At least 10 Lebanese soldiers have been killed in the fighting. And, Lebanese officials said Sunday they believe the Syrian rebels have captured at least 12 members of Lebanese security forces.

Attack called premeditated

Army Chief General Jean Kahwaji said the attack was premeditated.

"What happened is far more dangerous than some believe," Kahwaji told reporters in Beirut, saying the arrested commander had admitted to planning a large attack against army positions. "The terrorist attack which occurred yesterday was not an attack by chance or coincidence. It was planned previously, a long time ago, awaiting the appropriate time," he said.

Gunmen drive away with about a dozen men, two in camouflage police uniforms, in Arsal, a Sunni Muslim town near the Syrian border in eastern Lebanon, Aug 2, 2014.Gunmen drive away with about a dozen men, two in camouflage police uniforms, in Arsal, a Sunni Muslim town near the Syrian border in eastern Lebanon, Aug 2, 2014.
x
Gunmen drive away with about a dozen men, two in camouflage police uniforms, in Arsal, a Sunni Muslim town near the Syrian border in eastern Lebanon, Aug 2, 2014.
Gunmen drive away with about a dozen men, two in camouflage police uniforms, in Arsal, a Sunni Muslim town near the Syrian border in eastern Lebanon, Aug 2, 2014.

A security source said that a civilian had been killed by sniper fire inside Arsal, raising the civilian death toll in the fighting to three.

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

Arsal has long been a tinderbox for Lebanon's tensions. Rebels operating across the border in Syria's mountainous Qalamoun region have frequently crossed the porous border, often resting or seeking medical treatment in town.

Lebanon is hosting more than 1 million refugees who have fled Syria's conflict. More than 100,000 of them are estimated to be living in and around Arsal in makeshift camps spread throughout the surrounding hills.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) told the French news agency AFP it was "monitoring closely" the situation in Arsal but had no details on whether refugees had been affected by the fighting.

US reaction

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.

The US ambassador to Lebanon also met Kahwaji on Sunday to express support, the American embassy in Beirut said.

Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam called the raid an attack against Lebanon and its people. He called the assault a "flagrant attack on the Lebanese state and the Lebanese armed forces."

Salam said his government will not tolerate chaos and let matters get out of control. He called on "all political forces to exercise wisdom and responsibility and to make every effort to protect Lebanon and distance it from the dangers around it."

Salam said the army is working to restore security and stability in the Arsal region.

Lebanese military vehicles have deployed around Arsal and shelled the area while Syrian warplanes have been bombing rebel positions in the town's environs, residents say.

"The situation is bad," Arsal's mayor Ali al-Hujeiri said when reached by Reuters briefly by phone. "Very, very bad."

Cross-border violence

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 regime.

Lebanon, a Mediterranean country of about 4 million people that borders Israel, has struggled with the shockwaves of Syria's three-year-old conflict, whose sectarian dimensions echo those of its own 1975-90 civil war.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AFP.

You May Like

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the US are seeing gas prices dip below $3 a gallon More

Afghan Women's Soccer Team Building for the Future

A four-team female league was recently set up in Kabul; It will help identify players for the national team More

Video Koreas on Edge Amid Live-fire Drills

Pyongyang threatens nuclear test as joint US, S. Korean exercises show forces’ capabilities More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: meanbill from: USA
August 03, 2014 6:32 PM
The Lebanese have fought in more wars than any country in the world, amongst themselves and against many other countries and empires, with internal religious, political and tribal differences at the forefront, and external political, religious, and tribal conflicts from neighboring countries spilling over into Lebanon..... (No one can question the bravery of the Lebanese, who's ancestors were all from great fighters)..


by: maithe from: Paris, France
August 03, 2014 2:51 PM
Lebanon: here we are !... Very very (predictable) bad news....
The so-called "rebels" are wild , fanatic terrorists groups. Among them the Al-Nusra front...
Everybody focus on Palestinians; Nobody seems to care about what is unfolding in Lebanon . Gaza in paving the way....
The worst is to come... with the Hezbollah.....

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid