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Hezbollah, Nusra Front clash near Lebanon border

Lebanese army soldiers from a commandos unit, search the area where they blew up a bomb-packed parked car in a field outside the village of Fakiha, near the Lebanese and Syria border, in northeast Lebanon, Monday, March 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

HERMEL, Lebanon: Hezbollah fighters clashed once again with members of the Nusra Front on the border with Syria Wednesday evening, a security source said Thursday.

The fierce fighting took place along the outskirts of the northeastern town of Arsal and the Bekaa Valley town of Al-Fakiha, the source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Daily Star.

Media reports said the clashes killed two Hezbollah members and dozens of fighters from the radical group fighting in Syria, adding that the Lebanese group took seven militants hostage.

Earlier this week, seven Hezbollah fighters and 32 Syrian rebels died in clashes around the Syrian village of Nahleh, just over the border from Lebanon’s Arsal.

Arsal and the area around it are largely Sunni, and locals sympathize with the Sunni-led uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Earlier this year, clashes between Hezbollah-backed Syrian regime troops and rebel groups relatively subsided after the former regained control of the Qalamoun, a mountainous region bordering Lebanon.

Rebels battling Assad forces have in recent weeks attempted to retake several areas along the porous border between Lebanon and Syria particularly that Qalamoun was seen as a strategic region for smuggling weapons and fighters.

The Lebanese Army has also launched a crackdown and tightened the noose on rebels along the border to prevent the infiltration of armed men into Lebanon, following months of car bombings targeting predominantly Shiite areas in retaliation to Hezbollah’s role in Syria.

 

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