Roads blocked across Lebanon to protest "siege" on Ersal

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Lebanese demonstrators blocked several roads throughout the country on Tuesday evening in protest at what they called a "siege" on the eastern town of Ersal near the border with Syria.

The road to Ersal was blocked by residents of the town of Labwe who erected sand barriers this weekend, a security source said, cutting it off from other parts of Lebanon.

The blockade followed days of rocket attacks on Labwe which were claimed by jihadist groups occupying areas on the outskirts of Ersal and inside Syria.

The town also hosts tens of thousands of refugees.

The border area has been steadily sucked into Syria's three-year-old conflict as Syrian troops and jets target rebel bases on the frontier and suspected Syrian rebels fire rockets at pro-Hezbollah towns to punish the Lebanese group for supporting Assad.

On Tuesday, the army fired shots in the air to disperse protesters who blocked a main road leading from the capital Beirut to the southern coastal town of Sidon, where residents also reported protests.

Some of the protesters in Beirut wore black masks and the security source said demonstrators also barred roads in areas in the Bekaa Valley, where Arsal is located.

Lebanon's National News Agency also reported protesters cutting off roads with burning tires in the northern city of Tripoli, as well as villages in the far north along the border with Syria.

Tensions have been especially high in and around Ersal after Syrian forces and Hezbollah troops recaptured the border town of Yabrud from jihadist rebels on Sunday.

The rebel defeat at Yabrud sent a stream of refugees and fighters across the border into Ersal, and was followed hours later by a suicide car bombing against the town of al-Nabi Othman, near Labwe.

(Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

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