Relatives of the kidnapped soldiers block the road in Dahr al-Baidar, Monday, Sept. 22, 2014. (The Daily Star/Osama Kadiri)
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The Lebanese Army has beefed up its positions in and around Arsal and tightened the siege on the Bekaa town's outskirts in an attempt to cut supply lines to Islamist militants entrenched there, a senior military official said Monday.The official said the military has set up additional checkpoints in and around Arsal in an attempt to stop the infiltration of Islamist militants who are still holding at least 21 Lebanese soldiers and policemen hostage on the outskirts of the northeastern town.Stressing that Arsal was not under Army siege, the official said: "The Army is tightening the siege on the outskirts of the town in order to prevent supplies reaching the terrorists". He added that the Army Monday pounded militants' hideouts on Arsal's outskirts with artillery fire. The military's reinforced measures came amid a standoff in a Qatari-sponsored mediation to secure the release of at least 21 Lebanese soldiers and policemen held captive by ISIS and Nusra Front militants since last month's deadly clashes with the Lebanese Army in and around Arsal.Nusra Front shot one of its captive soldiers Friday, and two soldiers had earlier been beheaded by ISIS militants. The two groups have threatened to execute more soldiers unless the government meets their demands.
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