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Lebanon News

Syrian army briefly enters east Lebanon, clashes with armed group

A Syrian army position is seen set on the Syrian side accross from the Lebanese eastern border village of Masharih al-Qaa, Lebanon, Friday, Oct. 21, 2011. (The Daily Star/Nidal Solh)

BEIRUT: A group of Syrian soldiers entered east Lebanon for a brief period of time Monday and clashed with an unidentified armed group before returning back across the border, security sources told The Daily Star.

The soldiers entered some 200 meters into Mashari al-Qaa in the Bekaa at about 5 p.m., the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, adding that the group remained for a period of about 20 minutes during which heavy gunfire and artillery were used.

Lebanese authorities said they received no notification of casualties.

The incident was followed soon afterward by shelling from the Syrian side of the border into Mashari al-Qaa amid intense clashes between the Syrian military and members of the Free Syrian Army along the border.

The body of a Syrian soldier was also found in the area. However, the circumstances surrounding his death are unknown.

The entry of Syrian soldiers comes just days after the Lebanese Army, following a Cabinet decision, launched a deployment plan to boost the military’s presence in the north of the country as well as the north and eastern border with Syria.

The military deployment is aimed at protecting citizens following a series of deadly security incidents on the Lebanese-Syrian frontier.

Lebanese soldiers have standing orders to respond “immediately to sources of fire from wherever it may originate.

Senior government officials, including President Michel Sleiman, apprehensive of a spillover of the repercussions of the 16-month turmoil in Syria into the country, have said that Lebanon will not allow its territory to serve as a base or a transit point for the smuggling of arms and gunmen into Syria.

 

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