BEKAA: Lebanese security sources denied Thursday Free Syrian Army claims that one of the rebel forces’ battalions had struck Hezbollah bases in Lebanon.
An FSA statement earlier in the day said one of its battalions had targeted two bases belonging to the Lebanese group, one in Syria, the other in Hermel, east Lebanon.
“A Free Syrian Army battalion carried out two simultaneous attacks at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday ... targeting with machine guns and anti-tank missiles a group of Hezbollah fighters in the [Syrian] town of Qusayr [near the border with Lebanon]," the rebel group said in a statement.
The first attack, according to the FSA, targeted fighters in a pair of four-wheel-drive vehicles while the second struck a Hezbollah base in Hosh Sayyed Ali in Hermel, Lebanon.
The rebels used mortar bombs in their second assault, which led to the killing and wounding of a number of people, the FSA said in its statement.
The FSA, which accuses Hezbollah of fighting alongside forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad, said that the two attacks came after the Lebanese group allegedly continued shelling Syrian territories.
They also vowed more “surprises” in the coming hours and days.
The FSA gave the Lebanese party Tuesday a 48-hour deadline to halt what it says is the group’s shelling into villages around Syria’s Qusayr.
General Selim Idriss, the FSA chief of staff, told Agence France Presse Wednesday that as “soon as the ultimatum ends, we will start responding to the sources of fire.”
Speaking to Al-Arabiya television station, Idriss said Thursday that rebels would respond to the sources of fire regardless of how deep into Lebanon the location is.
He appealed to Lebanese leaders to prevent Hezbollah from firing rockets against rebels in Syria.
Last week, three Hezbollah members and 12 Syrian rebels were killed during battles in the Syrian town of Qusayr located just across the northeastern border with Lebanon, security sources told The Daily Star.
Although Hezbollah has repeatedly denied sending fighters in support of regime forces, Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah said last year that there were some 22 Syrian villages inhibited mostly by Shiite Lebanese who he said were defending themselves against rebel attacks.
There are an estimated 30,000 Lebanese Shiites who live in a cluster of 20 Syrian villages near the border with Lebanon. Many, however, have fled to the eastern Lebanese cities of Hermel and Baalbek as well as the capital because of the unrest in Syria.
In October of last year, Nasrallah said that Ali Hussein Nassif, a Hezbollah commander, was killed in a Syrian border area inhabited by Lebanese that was frequently the target of bombardment by rebels. –With additional reporting by Dana Khraiche