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20 Lebanese killed in Syria ambush
Syrian army soldiers are seen reinforcing the village of Arida near Talkalakh opposite the Lebanon-Syria border, in Wadi Khaled, north Lebanon, on Friday May 20, 2011. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)
Syrian army soldiers are seen reinforcing the village of Arida near Talkalakh opposite the Lebanon-Syria border, in Wadi Khaled, north Lebanon, on Friday May 20, 2011. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)
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BEIRUT: Twenty Lebanese men were killed Friday in an ambush by the Syrian army in the town of Tal Kalakh near the border with Lebanon, a Lebanese security source told The Daily Star.

The men hail from the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, including the neighborhoods of Bab al-Tabbaneh and the Mankoubeen, the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added.

Talha Kleib, an activist from Tal Kalakh familiar with the operation, said the Lebanese group was killed between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m Friday.

He added that two Syrians from Tal Kalakh and Abou Al-Mashaib, who acted as their guides, were also killed in the operation.

Kleib said he believed the Lebanese group had been ambushed after it walked a good distance into Syrian territory, adding that he suspected that there may have been a tip off to the Syrian regime “because the guides with them knew the roads well.”

Earlier Friday, Agence France Press, quoting a Lebanese security source and an Islamist leader, reported that 17 young men who went to Syria to fight with the rebels were all killed in a trap in Homs province.

The security source said he was informed of the deaths of the men "who went to Syria to fight with the rebels and were all killed in a trap in Homs province," which borders Lebanon.

The Islamist leader, for his part, told AFP the young Islamists came from different parts of the city and "left Tripoli this morning [Friday] and were killed in an ambush in Tal Kalakh by regime forces.”

Kleib, the activist, could not confirm whether the group consisted of fighters.

“They were transporting humanitarian aid and I honestly don’t know if there were fighters among them,” he told The Daily Star.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a group of 30 rebels "were caught in an ambush by government troops in the area of Tal Sarin near the town of Tal Kalakh," AFP reported.

Residents in the northern city of Tripoli told The Daily Star that 17 men were killed and three were kidnapped in the ambush in Tal Kalakh.

The residents said the men were from Tripoli’s Bab Al-Tabbaneh neighborhood, where the majority of residents oppose President Bashar Assad and support the uprising in Syria.

Following news of the killings, gunmen were seen roaming the streets of Tripoli as the Lebanese Army deployed heavily around the city to prevent any possible clashes. - With AFP

 
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