Syria air force raids Lebanon's Arsal: Security

AFP , Thursday 20 Mar 2014

Lebanese army soldiers walk at the site where people light a bonfire which is used to block a road and as a demonstration of support to the Lebanese border town of Arsal after Arsal was blocked by Al-Labwa residents, in the southern suburbs of Beirut March 18, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

Syria's air force has carried out fresh strikes against Lebanon's border town of Arsal, causing no injuries, a Lebanese security official said on Thursday.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the strikes may have been targeting rebels fleeing the Qalamun area where Syria's forces are on the offensive.

"Syrian helicopters carried out two strikes against the areas of Wadi Ajram and Khirbet Yunin on the outskirts of Arsal, just after 9:00 pm (1900 GMT)" on Wednesday, said the official.

"The strikes caused no injuries," he told AFP.

Syria's army and its Lebanese Shia ally Hezbollah overran the rebel bastion Yabrud in the Qalamun mountains on Sunday and are now targeting other opposition strongholds along the frontier with Lebanon.

Mainly-Sunni Arsal has been periodically targeted with often deadly air strikes by Syria's forces in the past few months.

Arsal's residents support the Syrian revolt against President Bashar al-Assad, and the town is hosting tens of thousands of Syrian refugees.

Smuggling routes used by opposition forces to move fighters and weapons back and forth between Lebanon and Syria pass through the Arsal area.

In January, a cross-border rocket attack on Arsal by the Syrian army killed eight people, including five children.

Lebanon's National News Agency meanwhile said the army on Wednesday arrested 15 Syrian men at an Arsal checkpoint.

"The men had entered Lebanese territory with forged papers, and some of them were members of (Syria's Al-Qaeda affiliate) Al-Nusra Front."

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