March 27, 2012
March 27, 2012
A Lebanese military source denied to Al Arabiya on Tuesday that the Syrian army troops made any incursion inside the Lebanese territories following reports that Syrian troops crossed into Lebanon.
According to Reuters, Syrian troops destroyed farm buildings and clashed with Syrian rebels who had taken refuge there, residents and local security sources said.
They said Syrian forces crossed a few hundred meters into Lebanese territory. A security source in Beirut said clashes had taken place near the poorly marked border but did not confirm Syrian troops had entered Lebanon.
Shells hit north Lebanon last week and residents say Syrian troops have briefly crossed the frontier while pursuing fleeing rebels in recent months.
Another resident said that the soldiers, some travelling in armored personnel vehicles, fired rocket-propelled grenades and exchanged heavy machinegun fire with rebels. He said soldiers destroyed one house with a bulldozer.
The Lebanese army blocked off the area, where hundreds of Syrian refugees — some of them active members of the rebel Free Syrian Army — have fled a year-long revolt by mostly Sunni Muslim dissidents against President Bashar al-Assad, a member of Syria’s Alawite minority, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.
An official, who requested anonymity, told AFP the troops briefly entered the Lebanese side of Masharii al-Qaa, a region that sits along the border between the two countries.
He said one house in the area was hit by mortar shells and gunfire. Its residents had fled shortly before, he added
Another local resident said several houses were hit.
Rami Abdul Rahman, head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, confirmed the clashes.
There were no immediate reports of casualties.
Another local official in the Lebanese town of al-Qaa, Mansour Saad, told AFP that Syrian troops were apparently chasing rebels trying to flee to Lebanon.
Residents said the Syrian troops remained 200-500 meters inside Lebanese territory.
Lebanon has had a complicated relationship with Syria, which continues to exercise some influence over its neighbor despite the 2005 departure of thousands of Syrian troops and intelligence operatives from Lebanese soil.
Syria said on Monday that armed “terrorist groups” in Syria have been receiving weapons from supporters in Lebanon.
“Experts, officials and observers are unanimous that weapons are being smuggled into Syrian territory from bordering States, including Lebanon,” Syria’s U.N. Ambassador Bashar Jaafari said in a letter sent last week to the U.N. Security Council and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Assad’s forces have killed well over 8,000 people through the uprising, according to the United Nations. The Syrian government says “armed groups” have killed 3,000 members of the security services.
By AL ARABIYA WITH AGENCIES