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Syrian shelling provokes outrage in Lebanon

Residents inspect a site hit by shelling fired from Syria into the Lebanese village of Mashta Hammoud in Akkar January 31, 2014. (REUTERS/Stringer)

TRIPOLI, Lebanon: The Future Movement of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri condemned Friday the Syrian shelling of Akkar villages which left one killed and four wounded, slamming the silence of the Lebanese state over the matter.

“The prestige of the state is at stake unless it protects its people in Akkar and put an end with any mean, to the aggressions of the Syrian regime on its sovereignty and the dignity of its people,” the group said in a statement.

A Syrian refugee was killed and four Lebanese wounded, including an Army soldier, in rocket and artillery fire from Syria into northern Lebanon Friday, security sources told The Daily Star.

The Future Movement slammed the indifference of the state toward what happened in Akkar.

“The Syrian shelling of Akkar villages came while the Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon was meeting caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour. After the meeting, he justified the aggression and held the Lebanese state responsible,” the statement said.

In a separate statement, the Future parliamentary bloc said that the appropriate solution to put an end to these aggressions was through deploying the Lebanese Army along the border with Syria, backed by the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon.

The sources said that at least 50 rockets and artillery shells launched from across the border struck the outskirts of Mashta Hammoud and several surrounding villages in the Wadi Khaled region of Akkar, in further spillover from Syria’s war. The sources identified the fatality as 39-year-old Hisham Khaled al-Hamad.

The wounded were identified as Lebanese Mahmoud Ahmad Ramadan, Jamileh Ahmad Assaf and Mohammad Mansour. Lebanese Army Sgt. Zakaria al-Ali was also wounded in the artillery and rocket barrage that began at 6 a.m.

The shelling came as heavy battles raged between Syrian regime forces and rebels in the town of Khirbet al-Rammal in the Al-Zara region on the Syrian side of the border, the sources said. Hours later, the Lebanese Army surrounded a mountainous area near the border and exchanged fire with gunmen holed up there, security sources told Reuters.

Friday’s was the latest in a series of salvoes to hit Lebanese towns bordering Syria.

Schools were evacuated in a number of the targeted villages. Residents of Wadi Khaled urged Lebanese officials, particularly President Michel Sleiman and Army Commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi, to step in to halt the shelling.

Asked about what justified such shelling, Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdel-Karim Ali said that Lebanon should be asked about the matter.

“This question should be addressed to the Lebanese government ... the terrorist organizations which found a favorable environment when borders [with Syria] were opened and received funding from foreign sides, have become a burden on Lebanon and are violating Lebanese and Syrian sovereignty,” Ali told reporters after meeting caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour at the Foreign Ministry in Beirut.

“These groups are moving in Lebanese areas such as Sidon, Beirut, Tripoli and Bekaa and you are watching the confessions of jihadist groups of all nationalities,” Ali added.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 01, 2014, on page 1.

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Summary

The Future Movement of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri condemned Friday the Syrian shelling of Akkar villages which left one killed and four wounded, slamming the silence of the Lebanese state over the matter.

A Syrian refugee was killed and four Lebanese wounded, including an Army soldier, in rocket and artillery fire from Syria into northern Lebanon Friday, security sources told The Daily Star.

The shelling came as heavy battles raged between Syrian regime forces and rebels in the town of Khirbet al-Rammal in the Al-Zara region on the Syrian side of the border, the sources said.

Asked about what justified such shelling, Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdel-Karim Ali said that Lebanon should be asked about the matter.


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