BEIRUT: A Lebanese soldier has joined the ranks of rebel groups fighting in Syria, a security source told The Daily Star Tuesday, the first case since the war in the neighboring country began in 2011.
The solider initially went missing in the Bekaa Valley Monday evening, with some media outlets reporting his abduction by the Nusra Front. Authorities later discovered that the soldier left with militants on his own will.
The Army reportedly lost trace of the soldier, who was identified by his initials A.S.D., on the outskirts of the northeastern town of Arsal, a predominantly Sunni town that supports the uprising against President Bashar Assad.
Over the weekend, the Lebanese Army heavily deployed along the porous border with Syria and set up new posts in a number of Baalbek villages including Arsal to curb infiltration by militants.
The move comes as Hezbollah-backed Syrian Army tightened the noose on armed rebels in the Qalamoun, a mountainous region bordering Lebanon.
Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian war has been a highly contentious issue in the country particularly among the party’s opponents who accuse security agencies of turning a blind eye to the group’s military role in Syria and targeting supporters of the uprising.