BEIRUT: Residents of the Lebanese border town of Tfeil have been fleeing the fallout of clashes between Hezbollah-backed regime troops and rebel forces near the border, making their way toward the northeastern town of Arsal.
“We have received more than 20 [Lebanese] families in the past two days,” a source in Arsal told The Daily Star.
The source said the Syrian army shelled the village Tuesday night "in retaliation to the Free Syrian Army's attack three days ago in Assal al-Ward."
The FSA has stepped up its campaign to regain control over the strategic Qalamoun region near the border with Lebanon, after the Syrian regime retook the mountainous terrain earlier this year.
Hezbollah and FSA fighters Tuesday engaged in fierce clashes in hills inside Syrian territory in an attempt to take control of the Jawzeh village, located three kilometers away from Tfeil.
No casualties were reported, but Tuesday’s attacks destroyed two houses and three tents belonging to Syrian refugees.
Syrian refugees in Tfeil have also been fleeing the town for Arsal, already host to over 100,000 refugees, as the army advanced toward the Lebanese town.
“There is a checkpoint for the Syrian army at one kilometer from Tfeil,” the source said.
The fleeing residents and refugees are using a military route that passes inside Syrian territory to reach Lebanon, the source added. “But the Syrian army and Hezbollah could close this road at any moment.”
Tfeil, the border Bekaa village, is poorly connected to the rest of the Lebanese state. A lack of roads linking it to Baalbek has left the village almost isolated, dealing primarily with the Syrian state and market, despite being inside Lebanese territory.
After the civil war began in Syria, the borders were closed, leaving Tfeil essentially under siege conditions.