Lebanon News

Syrian gunships raid outskirts of Lebanon’s Arsal: source

BEIRUT: Syrian gunships fired salvoes of rockets Thursday at a residential area on the outskirts of Arsal, northeast Lebanon, and a barrage of rockets from across the border earlier in the day hit a valley in the east of the country, Lebanese security sources said.

Developments in the area, the scene of frequent security incidents linked to the Syrian war, were followed up by President Michel Sleiman, who in talks with Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi stressed the need for protecting civilians.

According to one security source, two Syrian gunships conducted separate raids in the outskirts of Arsal, a predominantly Sunni area bordering Syria known for its support of the uprising in Lebanon’s neighbor.

The source said one of the gunships targeted the Ata Valley while the other conducted a raid in Hay Al-Shamis - an area that is close to Qalamoun where a much-anticipated offensive by the Hezbollah-backed Syrian regime and rebel forces is expected.

A total of nine rockets were fired during the raids, with seven striking a string of houses and two hitting deserted roads, the source said.

No casualties were reported.

The source said the targeted areas link Lebanon’s Arsal with Qalamoun, a region north of Damascus, and that fierce clashes involving warplanes and gunships were ongoing in the Qalamoun area.

The air raids came shortly after a series of rockets from Syria struck the valley of Nabi Sheet, in east Lebanon.

Security sources said three rockets hit the valley at around 9 a.m. Those were soon followed by a further three projectiles, the sources said, adding that a seventh rocket landed in the area at 9. 50 a.m.

There were no reports of casualties.

The east of the country has been frequently targeted by rocket fire from Syria, where regime forces backed by Hezbollah fighters have sought to crush an armed rebellion.

According to a statement from Baabda Palace, in talks with Kahwagi, Sleiman stressed the need to “take all necessary measures to protect civilians and Lebanese villages, prevent the recurrence of such attacks and confront the sources of fire.”

Lebanon officially adopts a policy of disassociating from developments in Syria and in 2012 rival political leader agreed to the “Baabda Accord,” a pact that calls for neutralizing Lebanon from regional crises, particularly the war next door.

 

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