Al-Nusra Front in Lebanon claims suicide attack

AFP , Sunday 23 Feb 2014

Jihadists claimed a deadly suicide attack Saturday against an army checkpoint in the Lebanese town of Hermel that they indicated was in retaliation for Hezbollah's involvement in Syria's war.

"In a blessed martyrdom (suicide) operation, the Hermel area was struck on Saturday," the Al-Nusra Front in Lebanon said on Twitter hours after the blast that killed two soldiers and a civilian.

It also posted photographs of children with amputated limbs, under the headline: "The crimes of the party of Iran (Hezbollah) in Syria".

Believed to be a franchise of Syria's Al-Nusra Front, the arm of Al-Qaeda in the war-ravaged country, the Lebanese jihadist group recently claimed responsibility for attacks targeting Hermel and other areas of the Mediterranean country dominated by Hezbollah.

The organisation first surfaced in mid-December, when it claimed rocket attacks, also on Hermel.

Areas under Hezbollah domination in eastern Lebanon and southern Beirut have been targeted by a wave of violent attacks in recent months, since the Shiite group acknowledged it sent fighters to support President Bashar al-Assad's troops in Syria's war.

Until Saturday, the attacks had all killed civilians.

While Hezbollah has been the main focus of a string of attacks, many of them claimed by radical Sunni groups that oppose the Shiite movement's role in Syria, the army has also been a target.

Extremist Sunnis see the army as taking the side of Hezbollah and other Assad allies in Lebanon's violence, which has escalated in recent months as a result of Syria's conflict.

Lebanon is deeply divided over the war in neighbouring Syria, with Hezbollah and its allies backing Assad and the Sunni-led opposition supporting the revolt.

Both sides of the Lebanese divide have regularly condemned such attacks.

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