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Syrian army fatally shoots man in Lebanese territory
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BEIRUT: A Syrian farmer died from a gunshot wound after the Syrian Army fired into the Bekaa village of Arsal Thursday afternoon, a high ranking security source told The Daily Star.

After the incident, the Syrian Army unit which had crossed into Lebanon withdrew into Syrian territory without offering any explanation. The Syrian army did not initiate contact with Lebanese authorities.

The body of Ali al-Khatib was still at the location where he was shot, the source said.

Khatib, who is married to a Lebanese woman, hails from the Syrian border town of Meshrfeh.

Two Syrian armored vehicles crossed the Lebanese border into Arsal Tuesday, firing at an abandoned battery factory in the area, before heading back to Syria.

Local residents, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Daily Star Wednesday that the vehicles were two armored personnel carriers and those vehicles fired at farmers’ homes.

Politicians of the March 14 coalition voiced their condemnation of Tuesday’s incident and criticized the government’s silence regarding the incursion.

Justice Minister Shakib Qortbawi Thursday defended the government’s decision not to issue a statement on Tuesday’s incident. Speaking before Thursday’s fatal incursion, he said: “The government did not issue any statement condemning the Syrian incursion in Arsal [because] Lebanese security and army services are fulfilling their duties and this issue is being handled by security forces.”

Speaking before Thursday’s incident, Syria’s Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdel Karim Ali said that the Syrian incursion earlier in the week was blown out of proportion in the Lebanese media for political purposes.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 07, 2011, on page 1.
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