BEIRUT: Airborne troops conducted thorough searches along the eastern mountain range bordering Syria Wednesday, as part of measures to curb infiltration of the porous border by gunmen and arms.
The National News Agency (NNA) said the combing operations were carried out in the mountains east of Ras Baalbek and Fakiha, and to the north of Arsal, from dawn until midday.
“The troops, backed by the air force, searched hideouts which can be used by infiltrators and outlaws, including caves, hills, paths and side roads,” NNA said.
Intensive gunfire was heard as the troops combed the border area often used by fighters, refugees and smugglers.
Melkite archbishop for Baalbek and north Bekaa Elias Rahal, welcomed Wednesday’s security move which he said helped reassure residents about their safety.
“The Army’s operation echoed positively among inhabitants, bestowing a general feeling of reassurance and protection throughout the region,” Rahal told the NNA.
Fears of spillover of violence from Syria mounted in the past 10 days as Hezbollah fighters battled Syrian rebels in a non-demarcated area of the frontier between Qalamoun and Arsal.
In April, Syrian forces backed by allied fighters from Hezbollah retook control of most of the Qalamoun region.
But Syrian activists say hundreds of opposition fighters have taken refuge in the caves and hills in the border area, using it as a rear base from which to launch attacks inside Syria.
Hezbollah has apparently launched an attack in a bid to finish off the pockets of rebel resistance.