Derian receives Machnouk at Dar al-Fatwa. (The Daily Star/Dalati Nohra, HO)
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Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk warned again Monday against any military operation to liberate "occupied" Arsal from Islamist militants, saying this would be dangerous for the residents of the northeastern town near the border with Syria.Machnouk was referring to the sporadic but fierce clashes that have been raging between Daesh (ISIS) and Nusra Front militants on the outskirts of Arsal since last week, leaving several casualties on both sides.Army rocket launchers Monday targeted militants on the outskirts of Arsal and the village of Ras Baalbek, the National News Agency reported.The militants have been holed up in the mountainous region around Arsal since August 2014 and are now surrounded by Hezbollah military forces on both sides of the border, as well as by the Syrian army to the east.In December, Machnouk warned that any military operation to liberate Arsal would plunge Lebanon into the 5-year-old war in Syria.
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