BEIRUT: Increasing violence in Arsal provoked an international response Sunday, with the U.S. vowing support for the Lebanese Army and urging respect for Lebanon’s policy of dissociation from the crisis in Syria.
U.S. Ambassador David Hale met with Lebanese Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi Sunday, expressing his country’s support for the Lebanese military’s fight against terrorism.
The U.S. Embassy in Beirut issued a statement saying that Hale expressed his condolences for the death of soldiers in the clashes against gunmen in Arsal. Hale also praised "the courage of all of Lebanon’s security services in their work to provide safety and stability throughout Lebanon and secure its borders."
The envoy expressed American solidarity with the Lebanese Army and encouraged all parties to work to insulate Lebanon from regional conflicts.
In his discussion with Kahwagi of the security situation in Lebanon , Ambassador Hale reiterated American support for the dissociation policy and and reaffirmed continued support for #Lebanon’s security services in this mission.
The U.S. state department also issued a statement prompting domestic and international concern over escalating violence in Arsal.
The State Department urged all parties to respect Lebanon's policy of "dissociation" from the Syrian conflict.
The United States "strongly condemns the attack," spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, vowing "strong support" from Washington for Lebanon's state institutions.
The U.S. Embassy in Lebanon condemned the assault Saturday on the Lebanese Army in Arsal, saying the country supported the Army and the Internal Security Forces as they work toward stability in Lebanon.
The embassy also said the disassociation policy was Lebanon’s best defense against regional conflict.
Tensions have risen dramatically in the Bekaa Valley after an Army arrest of a Syrian militant sparked a standoff Saturday afternoon in Arsal, with armed men laying siege to government facilities in the border town, demanding the release of the captive.
After several hours of intermittent gunfire and a tense standoff, militants stormed the police station in Arsal, taking control of the building and releasing several Syrian detainees held there, a security source told The Daily Star. The source said two civilians were killed while trying to prevent the militants from attacking the station.
Armed groups also carried out a concentrated attack on the homes of Arsal residents who the Army protected, and kidnapped a number of Army soldiers and members of the Internal Security Forces Saturday.
Eight Lebanese soldiers were killed in clashes with gunmen that continued overnight in and around the border town of Arsal near Syria, a Lebanese Army statement said Sunday.