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Arsal at Syrian-Lebanese border
Arsal at Syrian-Lebanese border

Syrian Helicopter targeted Rebels Fleeing into Lebanese Territories

(Dp-news)

Damascus/ Beirut- Lebanon's army warned on Wednesday it will hit back against any new attacks from Syria after a Syrian helicopter gunship struck an eastern town Arsal on Wednesday.



A Syrian helicopter gunship fired two rockets at the center of Arsal, a Lebanese town populated mostly by Sunni Muslims, wounding one person, Lebanon’s army said.

In a rare warning against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, it said Lebanese troops "took the necessary defensive measures to respond immediately to any similar violations".




Lebanon’s President Michel Sleiman called the Arsal attack "a violation of Lebanon’s sovereignty" and said Beirut had the right to take steps to defend itself.

Hours after the helicopter gunship strike, Syria’s army command insisted it respected its neighbor's sovereignty but said it would continue to target rebels, state news agency SANA reported.



The General Command of the Syrian Army and the Armed Forces said in a statement, published by SANA, that one of the helicopters of the Syrian Arab Army on June 12, 2013, targeted a terrorist group trying to escape to the Lebanese territories.

The helicopter targeted the terrorist group and injured some of its members while the rest managed to flee into Arsal district where they were targeted with gunfire from the helicopter, the statement explained.



The Syrian Arab Army will continue fulfilling its duties to protect the Syrian Arab Republic and preserve the security of its citizens, and it is committed to respecting the sovereignty of the Lebanese Republic and its people's security, the General Command stressed in a statement.



The Syrian army said its helicopters have also targeted a group of militants crossing the border into the Lebanese village of Aarsal.



Most residents of Arsal, in the hills just 12km from the border with Syria, support the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad regime.

Arsal has been used as a conduit for weapons and rebels to enter Syria, while also serving as a refuge for people fleeing the conflict.



Dozens of people wounded in fighting in al-Qusayr — mostly rebels —flocked to Arsal last week as Syria’s army and fighters from the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah overran the former insurgent bastion near the border.

Lebanon’s poorly equipped army usually co-ordinates closely with the Syrian military.



Damascus dominated Lebanon politically and militarily for 30 years until 2005, and still exerts significant influence through its allies in the country.



The Syrian army’s latest statement comes days after it recaptured the strategic western city of al-Qusayr.



On June 5, the Syrian state TV said al-Qusayr, which lies near the border with Lebanon, was under full control of the Syrian army following three weeks of fighting with militants. Syrian troops were backed by forces from the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah during al-Qusayr operation.



Following al-Qusayr liberation, the army pledged to crush the foreign-backed militancy across the country, according to official and pro-regime media reports.



The Syria conflict erupted in March 2011 following a bloody regime crackdown on Arab Spring-inspired democracy protests.

Since then, there have been several spillover attacks in Lebanon involving both sides in Syria, but Wednesday’s army statement was the first of its kind in the nearly 27-month conflict.



Damascus says the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the militants are foreign nationals.
The Syrian government keeps telling that West and its regional allies, such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, are supporting the militants.

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