HERMEL, Lebanon: The Lebanese Army said five of its soldiers were wounded in an ambush on the outskirts of the border village of Arsal Wednesday.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a military source said it concluded a manhunt against the unidentified gunmen who fired at an Army patrol in the mountainous region of Rahwa on the outskirts of Arsal.
In parallel with the Lebanese Army operation, Syrian aircrafts bombed several areas on the outskirts of Arsal in attacks targeting gunmen on the border with Lebanon.
The Rahwa has become a safe haven for fighters fleeing battles in Syria’s Qalamoun and for Lebanese fugitives from Arsal, according to a security source.
Earlier in the day, a group of gunmen ambushed a Lebanese Army unit near the border with Syria, wounding five soldiers and prompting the military to launch an operation in search of the perpetrators.
The military unit was passing through the Rahwa when gunmen began shooting at the soldiers, said a security source, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Soldiers responded to the source of fire resulting in intermittent clashes that continued for hours. The military deployed tanks and armored vehicles to the area and launched a manhunt for the gunmen. Local media reported that soldiers have so far arrested three of the shooters.
The military source said the Army could not identify shooters as it did not make any arrests.
Lebanon’s state run National News Agency reported that Syrian gunmen carried out the ambush.
A shadowy, little-known Lebanese group, Liwaa Ahrar Al-Sunna, claimed responsibility for attacking what it described as “the crusader army.”
"Our free mujahadeen inflicted heavy losses on the crusader army," the group, which has claimed previous rocket attacks against Lebanese towns associated with Hezbollah, said on its Twitter feed.
Similar groups have previously accused the military of covering for and cooperating with Hezbollah, who they blame for militarily supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces.
In March, three soldiers were killed and four others were wounded in a suicide car bomb attack on a military post on the outskirts of Arsal. The attack was later claimed by an Al-Qaeda-linked rebel group fighting in Syria.
The Lebanese Army deployed heavily along the border with Syria earlier this month in an attempt to curb the number of suicide bombings and the infiltration of gunmen following a series of deadly attacks in the country.