Red Crescent personnel carry an injured Syrian man on a stretcher in Wadi Khaled, Thursday, March 20, 2014. (The Daily Star/Stringer)
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Fears are mounting in northern Lebanon over an influx of highly trained Islamist fighters following the Syrian government's seizure of a Crusader castle from rebels.fall of the fortress, known as Crac des Chevaliers, which overlooks the Homs village of Al-Hosn, has proven a huge defeat for the Islamist group Jund al-Sham, forcing approximately 300 fighters who were holed up in the castle to retreat to Lebanon.According to information from Salafist activist sources in north Lebanon, a large number of Lebanese fighters from Jund al-Sham and their families – believed to number around 1,000 – survived a secondary Syrian army ambush near the border area of Bqaiaa. Dandashi has played a crucial role in the formation of the Syrian branch of Jund al-Sham, which has long existed in Lebanon, and the Islamic Emirate in Qalaat al-Hosn, largely following in the footsteps of Lebanese Salafist Walid Boustani.Both Dandashi and Boustani were among some of the members of Fatah al-Islam who survived the 2007 Nahr al-Bared fighting. Both were arrested and imprisoned in Lebanon's notorious Roumieh Prison before escaping at separate points to join Islamist forces fighting in the Syrian uprising. After the war ended, Boustani left Lebanon and went to Denmark before returning again in 2006 and establishing a Fatah al-Islam cell in the Syrian Qalamoun region as part of the group's mission to declare Tripoli an Islamic emirate.
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