Soldiers monitor the combats raging in Arsal, Monday, August 4, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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BEIRUT Prime Minister Tammam Salam asserted Monday that there will be no political settlement with militants from Syria battling the Lebanese Army in Arsal, stressing that the rival political parties represented in the Cabinet vow unanimous support for the military.Meanwhile, Salam is overseeing negotiations for a cease-fire deal that is set to begin at 6 p.m. and entails the release of kidnapped soldiers and security personnel captured by militants as well as the withdrawal of gunmen from Lebanon, government sources said. Salam underlined that the Cabinet, in which rival political groups are represented, stands unanimously behind the Army in its combat against the militants.Militants from Syria's Al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front are refusing to release the 29 military and security personnel they are holding captive in Arsal, unless the Army frees Imad Jomaa, a senior Nursa Front member whose arrest triggered the fighting in the border village, political sources told The Daily Star earlier Monday.At least 13 soldiers, six civilians and 50 militants have been killed in the fighting in Arsal, which broke out over the weekend when militants waged premeditated attacks against Army positions in and around Arsal, after troops had arrested a notorious Nusra Front member, Imad Jomaa.
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