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Five Lebanese soldiers killed in violent clashes northeast Lebanon

BEIRUT |, with agencies - January 24, 2015, 08h14
A view of Ersal. - Photo: National News Agency
Five Lebanese soldiers were killed on Friday at the northeastern border with Syria in a fierce battle against jihadists, according to a communiqué released by the Army on Friday night.
 While talking to The Daily Star, a military official said that the clashes began at 7:30 a.m. in Tallet al-Hamra and on the outskirts of the village of Ras Baalbek near Lebanon’s eastern frontier with Syria. He said that the fighting caused “a large number of casualties among the terrorists.”

The official told the Lebanese daily that “troops were using heavy artillery and helicopter gunships to pound militant hideouts on the outskirts of Arsal.”

According to this official, “the terrorists’ attack came in response to the Army’s recent successes in foiling a series of suicide attacks and dismantling vehicles laden with explosives.”

The Nosra Front led several suicide attacks in Lebanon during the past two years. Most of these attacks were targetting Hezbollah and the Lebanese army. Hezbollah is currently fighting in Syria to protect the Syrian president Bachar el Assad against rebel groups. The Nosra Front is one of those groups.

Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam on Friday night assured his total support for the army in defending Lebanon and Lebanese. In a phone call to Army chief Jean Kahwagi, Salam stated that "all Lebanese stand in one row with the army against terrorism."

Friday’s clashes are the most violent ones since the fighting that took place last August in Arsal, where about 30 Lebanese soldiers and police members were abducted by Jabhat al Nosra. Twenty five soldiers are still held captive. Four of the hostages have already been executed. The Nosra Front demands the liberation of many islamist militants, currently detained by Lebanese authorities in Roumieh prison.
#Arsal, #Front_al_Nosra, #Syria
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