Clashes Between Lebanese Army, Syria Militants Leave 3 Soldiers Injured

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A Lebanese army patrol in Ersal. Al-Akhbar/Haitham Moussawi

Published Thursday, February 26, 2015

Updated at 5:39 pm : Violent clashes that erupted overnight between the Lebanese army and unidentified militants along the border with Syria left three Lebanese soldiers injured, security sources reported Thursday.

Sources told Anadolu news agency that following the clashes, the Lebanese army advanced toward strategic locations that were occupied by the militants.

The source added that the army pounded the hideouts of the militants, who infiltrated Lebanon through the Syrian border, with an artillery barrage, noting that the army had used helicopters and surveillance planes to track the militants down.

According to a statement by the army, an unspecified number of militants were killed or injured, while three soldiers were moderately injured.

Meanwhile, another source said the army succeeded in recapturing an area on the outskirts of Ras Baalbek, seizing arms and ammunitions that were in the possession of the militants.

In recent months, the Lebanese army has fought several battles against jihadists crossing in from across the restive border with Syria.

The deadliest battle took place last August in the border town of Ersal with jihadists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group and al-Qaeda’s Syria branch, al-Nusra Front.
The Ersal violence left 16 soldiers dead and 85 wounded, while dozens of jihadists are said to have been killed, along with three civilians.

Islamist militants withdrew from the town to its outskirts, taking with them 25 captive Lebanese soldiers and policemen, four of whom they have since executed.

In October, Lebanese troops fought deadly clashes with ISIS and Nusra jihadists in the northern city of Tripoli.

The fighting left 42 people dead, including 11 soldiers and eight civilians.

ISIS has captured large swathes of land in Iraq and Syria, declaring what it calls a cross-border Islamic ‘caliphate,’ killing thousands and displacing millions in the two countries.

(Anadolu, Al-Akhbar)

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