BEIRUT

Lebanon News

Syrian warplanes strike Lebanon border region

File - Lebanese soldiers searching civilians at a checkpoint at the entrance of Arsal in east Lebanon. AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

BEIRUT: Syria launched a series of airstrikes targeting a remote area of the Bekaa Valley border town of Arsal Wednesday, a security source told The Daily Star.

There were no immediate reports of casualties from the air raids on Ras al-Sirj and Iqbit al-Mbaida on Arsal's outskirts, the sources added.

Arsal mayor Ali Hujeiri said the warplanes carried out three airstrikes between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m.

"Syrian jets are bombing the barren terrain of Arsal. They have no specific targets,” he told The Daily Star by telephone. "Several bombs fell in a field near a Lebanese Army checkpoint," Hujeiri added.

Hours after the airstrike, one rocket from Syria hit Janta, a border village in the Bekaa Valley where Hezbollah is known to have several training camps.

Syrian jets have frequently targeted Arsal, a predominantly Sunni area known for its strong support for the Syrian opposition.

In turn, Shiite-majority areas in east Lebanon have been repeatedly targeted by rocket fire from Syria claimed by radical Islamist groups linked to Al-Qaeda.

The hilly region around Arsal near the Syrian border has long been used as smuggling trails to arm Syrian rebels or move fighters back and forth between Lebanon and Syria.

Syrian airstrikes have intensified since President Bashar Assad's forces launched a military campaign to seize the rebel-held town of Yabroud located inside Syria, near Arsal.

Yabroud is a major rebel supply route that leads to border towns in northeastern Lebanon where the majority of the population supports the rebels.

 

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