Lebanon News

Two killed in clash with Army in Arsal

File - Lebanese army soldiers search civilians at a checkpoint at the entrance of Arsal. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

BEIRUT: Two gunmen were killed Thursday in an attack on a Lebanese Army checkpoint in the Bekaa town of Arsal, near the Syrian border, a statement from the Army said.

“Gunmen riding a pick-up truck tried to attack an Army checkpoint in Wadi Hmeid-Arsal and opened fire against Army soldiers. The Army clashed with the gunmen which led to the killing of two gunmen," said the Army statement.

The military said it seized the pick-up truck used in the attack that contained military weapons and ammunition.

The Army statement said that one of the dead gunmen was a Syrian national and that the remaining perpetrators fled the area.

The Army did not specify the nationality of the second causality who died in the incident which took place near the Syrian border.

Rocket attacks and assaults have been launched from Syria in recent weeks against the Army and towns in the border as a rebel response to Hezbollah joining regime fighting in the nearby Syrian border town of Qusair.

Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad and backed by Lebanon’s Hezbollah seized Qusair on Wednesday after weeks of fighting, a development that has frustrated and provoked rebels.

Salim Idriss, a commander of the Syrian rebel forces, warned Wednesday that fighters seeking to oust President Bashar Assad could target Hezbollah in Lebanon if authorities failed to put a stop to the resistance group’s activities in Syria.

A similar attack against the Army in the border town of Arsal killed three soldiers last month.

Several suspects, one Syrian, have been identified by police in the attack.

The Army also said that a second clash took place at the same army checkpoint at around 2:30 a.m. Thursday but no casualties were reported.

The Army statement confirmed that nearly a dozen rockets fired from Syria hit areas in and around the city of Baalbek Wednesday night, injuring one person and causing material damage.

The Army said that 10 rockets hit Baalbek, while the National News Agency's report said 11 rockets fired from the mountain range that straddles the border with Syria, hit various locations, including the Shawarna neighborhood of the city, close to the home of MP Ghazi Zeaiter.

The Army statement also confirmed that a Syrian helicopter gunship fired rockets toward Arsal Wednesday afternoon.

The Army said that the Syrian helicopter gunship dropped five rockets on rural areas in Arsal, the Babayn and the Jammalah road.

Only three of the rockets exploded, the army said.

The helicopter attack was fiercely condemned by President Michel Sleiman.

On April 11, a Syrian helicopter gunship fired rockets on Khirbet Daoud and Seraj al-Ajram, about 3 km to the northeast, slightly wounding a resident.





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