Lebanese soldiers killed near Syrian border

Published Friday, February 1, 2013

Updated 9:19pm: At least two Lebanese soldiers were killed and several others injured during clashes with militants in the country's northern Bekaa Valley on Friday, an army statement said.

The army identified the deceased soldiers as 29-year-old Captain Pierre Bashalany and 30-year-old Sergeant Ibrahim Zahraman.

The fighting took place near the northeastern town of Arsal, a region close to the border with Syria where rebels are fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.

Lebanon's National News agency (NNA) reported that the army had beefed up its positions around Arsal on Friday evening.

Residents told Reuters that clashes broke out after the army entered the area to arrest a suspected member of the al-Qaeda-linked group Jabhat al-Nusra which is fighting alongside Syrian rebels.

But the NNA said the army was ambushed during an attempt to arrest a man allegedly involved in the kidnappings of Estonian tourists in March 2011.

Members of the Free Syrian army were also involved in the fighting, according to several television news reports.

(Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

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