HERMEL/BEIRUT: A shootout by the Lebanese Armed Forces at the entrance of Arsal wounded a local resident Thursday, after security scares amped up the Army’s crackdown on Syrian rebel groups in Lebanon’s border region.
In the wake of increased kidnappings and shootouts by displaced anti-Assad groups, Lebanese forces continue to implement security measures to monitor the movement of armed refugees into the country.
Security forces have been going on daily raids, patrolling houses and refugee shelters for weapons, stolen vehicles, and suspects wanted for kidnappings and the use of firearms.
The vice chairman of Arsal’s municipality, Ahmad al Flaiti expressed his fear of escalating security threats in the village’s outskirts due to rising tension in adjacent Syrian territories.
According to Flaiti, the outskirts of Arsal have become dominated by armed rebels who have withdrawn from Syrian regions reclaimed by Assad’s forces. "[The Syrian region of] Qalamoun has witnessed a heavy influx of anti-Assad militants recently,” he added.
Gunmen who fled the Rankous area in Qalamoun have already escaped to the hills and valleys that separate Lebanon from its larger, embattled neighbor.
Flaiti hailed the efforts of the Lebanese forces, stating that measures taken are “necessary to ensure the security of the village’s residents.”
Armed forces also augmented security measures due to worries that Sunni jihadists in Iraq are set to target northern regions of Lebanon, after achieving great gains last week. The Army has stepped up preventative measures over fears that extremists affiliated with the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria will spill over into Lebanon.