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Syrian jets hit Lebanese territory near border

posted Sep 17, 2012, 6:06 AM by Syrian Transition   [ updated Sep 17, 2012, 6:06 AM ]
17 Sept 2012 (Gulf News) Missiles fired by Syrian warplanes hit Lebanese territory on Monday in one of the most serious cross-border violations since Syria’s crisis began 18 months ago, security officials in Beirut and Lebanese state media said.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, said four missiles fired by two Syrian jets hit a rugged and remote area on the edge of the Lebanese border town of Arsal. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency reported that the warplanes fired three missiles that fell on the outskirts of Arsal about 500 metres from the border between the two countries.

“I heard several explosions and saw four clouds of dust billowing from the area,” Arsal resident Nayeh Ezz Al Deen said by telephone referring to the border. “I don’t know if it was an air raid but there was a plane in the sky.”

He added that the town had been quiet two hours after the 10am attack.

The Syrian forces were believed to be chasing rebels in the area, which has been the site of clashes in the past between opposition fighters battling Syrian troops just on the other side of the frontier. Lebanese armed forces have in the past detained people in the region caught trying to smuggle weapons into Syria from Lebanon.
Arsal is a predominantly Sunni town, like the majority of Syria’s opposition that is trying to oust President Bashar Al Assad from power. Al Assad belongs to the minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

Syrian shells have hit Lebanese territory in the past but the air raid appears to be the most serious violation. Several Lebanese, including a journalist, have been killed and dozens wounded by fire coming from the Syrian side.

Also yesterday, inside Syria, troops shelled rebel-held areas around the country including the northern city of Aleppo, Syria’s largest, and the Damascus neighbourhood of Hajar Aswad, activists said. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Coordination Committees also reported clashes between troops and rebels.

The Syrian uprising, which began with largely peaceful protests, has since morphed into a deadly armed insurgency. Hundreds of people are killed every week as the government increasingly relies on air power to try and crush the rebels.

Activists say more than 27,000 have been killed in the conflict.

The government denies that there is any popular will behind the revolt, saying it is driven by foreigners and terrorists. The regime can use the UN panel’s report to bolster its claims.

Rebels deny that foreigners had any role starting the revolt, saying Syrians were seeking increased freedom from the regime. But as the conflict drags on, some rebels have acknowledged the presence of small numbers of foreigners among their ranks.
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