BEIRUT: The Lebanese Army arrested six Syrian nationals in Arsal Thursday over suspicion of belonging to Syrian rebel groups, the National News Agency reported.
The agency said four were detained at an Army checkpoint in Wadi Ain-Ata and two at another checkpoint in Ain al-Shaab. The six suspects were handed over to the judicial police for further interrogation.
The army had detained eight other Syrian nationals Wednesday who were also accused of belonging to armed rebel groups.
Residents of Arsal are sympathetic to the Syrian rebels, and many of the latters are believed to be taking refuge in the mountainous area bordering the town.
Battles raged Wednesday in Qalamoun, the Syrian region just across the mountainous border area, and in the mountains surrounding Shiite villages such as Labweh, Nahlet Younin and Al-Ain in Lebanon’s northeast, between regime and Hezbollah forces and the Syrian rebels.
Hezbollah and the Syrian regime have tightened the noose on armed rebels fighting in the mountainous regions straddling the border between Lebanon and Syria, in a major push to uproot fighters opposed to the embattled Assad regime.
Hezbollah fighters gained control of hills surrounding rebel hideouts in the border province of Qalamoun and in the mountains bordering Shiite villages in northeastern Lebanon, helping seal off food and ammunition supply lines to the stranded fighters, a security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Daily Star.
Most of the fighters belong to an Al-Qaeda affiliate, the Nusra Front, the security source said. But some of the fighters are believed to have pledged allegiance to the Al-Qaeda splinter group the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), after its advances in Iraq.
Labweh’s mayor Ramez Amhaz told The Daily Star that a coordinated push including Hezbollah, the Syrian and the Lebanese armies targeting armed groups in the mountainous terrain surrounding the town of Arsal was being planned, but declined to specify the time of the operation. He said efforts were underway to ensure that Arsal was not involved or affected by the operation.