Five sui­cide bombers at­tack Le­banese troops; girl killed

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

A girl died and seven Le­banese sol­diers were wounded on Fri­day when five mil­i­tants blew them­selves up and a sixth threw a grenade dur­ing army raids on two refugee camps near the Syr­ian border. Four of the sui­cide bombers struck in the AlNur camp near the border town of Ar­sal, the army said. A young girl, whose par­ents are both refugees, was killed and three sol­diers wounded.

A med­i­cal source in the pro­vin­cial cap­i­tal Baal­bek said the girl was two and a half years old. Troops re­cov­ered four ex­plo­sive de­vices. Dur­ing a raid on Al-Qariya, an­other camp near Ar­sal, one mil­i­tant blew him­self up and a se­cond threw a grenade at troops, wound­ing four of them. The civil war, which has raged in Syria since March 2011, has trig­gered an ex­o­dus of more than 1.1 mil­lion refugees into neigh­bor­ing Le­banon and has re­peat­edly spilt over. The raids were aimed at “ar­rest­ing ter­ror­ists and seiz­ing weapons,” the army com­mand said.

A mil­i­tary source said that troops made a num­ber of ar­rests. “The ob­jec­tive of the op­er­a­tion was to ar­rest a wanted man and it was this man who was the first to blow him­self up,” the source said. A lead­ing Syr­ian op­po­si­tion body late Fri­day ac­cused the Le­banese army of vi­o­lat­ing refugee rights. “The Na­tional Coali­tion strongly con­demns the sys­tem­atic at­tacks to­day against refugee camps in Ar­sal... dur­ing which (refugees) were hu­mil­i­ated and treated like hostages,” a state­ment said. “We ask the Le­banese author­i­ties to pro­vide the nec­es­sary pro­tec­tion to Syr­ian refugees ac­cord­ing to in­ter­na­tional hu­man­i­tar­ian law,” the Na­tional Coali­tion said.

There have been mul­ti­ple clashes along the border be­tween the Le­banese army and ji­hadists of the Is­lamic State group or Al-Qaeda. In Au­gust 2014, the army clashed with ji­hadists of IS and Al-Qaeda’s then Syria af­fil­i­ate Al-Nusra Front in the Ar­sal re­gion, with mil­i­tants kid­nap­ping 30 Le­banese sol­diers and po­lice­men as they with­drew back along the border. Af­ter long and ar­du­ous ne­go­ti­a­tions, 16 of the kid­napped men were re­leased in De­cem­ber 2015 in ex­change for Is­lamist pris­on­ers held in Le­banese jails.

The ji­hadists ex­e­cuted four of their hostages while a fifth died of wounds he suf­fered in the ini­tial Ar­sal clashes, leav­ing nine mem­bers of Le­banon’s se­cu­rity forces still in their hands. Since 2014, both the Le­banese army and Shi­ite mil­i­tant group Hezbol­lah have car­ried out at­tacks on Syr­i­abased ji­hadists in east­ern Le­banon. Hezbol­lah has in­ter­vened in the war in Syria in sup­port of Pres­i­dent Bashar Al-As­sad, send­ing tens of thou­sands of fight­ers. Its strongholds in Le­banon have been hit by sev­eral deadly at­tacks claimed by IS.— AFP

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