BEIRUT: Syria launched a series of airstrikes targeting remote areas in the Bekaa Valley border town of Arsal Wednesday, a security source told The Daily Star.
The airstrikes on Ras al-Sirj and Iqbit al-Mbaida, located along Arsal’s outskirts, did not cause any casualties, the sources added.
Arsal Mayor Ali Hujeiri said that 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 over the telephone. “Several bombs fell in a field near a Lebanese Army checkpoint,” he added.
Hours after the airstrike, three rockets from Syria hit the area between Janta and Nabi Sheet, two border villages in the Bekaa Valley where Hezbollah is known to have training camps.
The Nusra Front claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement posted on its Twitter account. “We have fired three grad rockets at Hezbollah’s lairs in retaliation for its massacres in Syria,” it said.
The group promised further operations against the party and called on Sunni soldiers to defect from the Army, which it said was taking orders from Hezbollah. Syrian planes have frequently targeted Arsal, a predominantly Sunni area known for its strong support for the Syrian opposition.
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 mountainous region around Arsal has long been used as smuggling route to arm Syrian rebels and transport fighters across the border.
Syrian airstrikes have intensified since President Bashar Assad’s forces launched a military campaign to seize the rebel-held Syrian town of Yabroud, which is close to Arsal.
Yabroud is considered a major rebel supply hub, leading to border towns in northeastern Lebanon where the majority of the population supports the opposition.
The Nusra Front is not the only rebel group involved in attacks against Hezbollah. Two rockets claimed by members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, a rebel group fighting in Syria, landed in the Bekaa Valley village of Labweh Tuesday.
The rockets, which caused material damage, landed between houses in the mainly Shiite village, the sources said. There were no reports of causalities.