Armed men kill ‘three Lebanese soldiers’ near Syrian border

A Lebanese soldier on duty in Bkerke, Lebanon. (File Photo: AFP)

Three Lebanese soldiers were killed near the Syrian border by armed men overnight Monday, a security official told AFP news agency.

“Three soldiers were killed by armed men while they were in a four-wheel drive vehicle east of Arsal,” a town in northeastern Lebanon where most residents support the uprising in neighboring Syria.

A security source told Reuters news agency that two of the soldiers died in the attack, near the town of Arsal, and a third died later in hospital.

The border areas around Arsal are used by Syrian rebels battling President Bashar al-Assad to smuggle weapons and fighters from Lebanon across into Syria, and the region has seen previous clashes between the Lebanese military and gunmen.

"Around 3:30am, an army position in the Wadi Hmayyed-Arsal was attacked by an armed group in a black Jeep," an army statement said.

"The soldiers at the checkpoint faced off against the attackers, clashes ensued and three soldiers were killed," it added.

"Searches are continuing in the area for the armed men who escaped into the neighbouring field," the statement said.

The killings are the latest in a surge of violence tied to Lebanon and Syria.

At least five people were wounded in southern Lebanon on Sunday when two Grad rockets exploded in the Shiite-majority Hezbollah district.

The attack may have been a response to a speech by the militant group’s leader Hassan Nasrallah a day earlier, in which he committed to fighting in Syria’s conflict on behalf of his ally Assad.

“Two Grad rockets hit the southern suburbs of Beirut. One rocket struck a car showroom where four people were wounded and vehicles were damaged,” a security source told AFP.

Both rockets hit the Al-Shayyah area of Beirut.

The security source said four of those wounded in the showroom were all Syrian workers. An AFP journalist said the second rocket hit an apartment block and caused widespread damage but no casualties.

“This incident is probably related to the conflict in Syria,” the security source said.

Assad is fighting to end a two-year revolt against his rule, and has gained support from Hezbollah with fighters from the Shiite group fighting alongside regime forces in Syria over the past week.

The Free Syrian Army denied any involvement in the rocket attacks, blaming Hezbollah and the Syrian regime for the eruption of violence in Lebanon, Al Arabiya TV reported, citing the FSA’s chief of staff.

Nasrallah on Saturday vowed “victory” in the fight against Syrian opposition fighters, saying his group is committed to its choice in the conflict and will accept all sacrifices and consequences of it.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:40 - GMT 06:40