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Lebanon army hit by IED in Arsal

Five LAF soldiers were injured by the blast.

LAF patrol in Arsal. (AFP)

BEIRUT – Terror has struck Lebanon’s Arsal yet again, this time when a blast targeted an army unit on patrol in the troubled northeastern border town.

 

At midday Friday, an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated as a Lebanese Armed Forces patrol moved through the Ras al-Sirj area of Arsal, less than 24 hours after a deadly explosion went off outside meeting of Muslim clerics in the town’s commercial market.

 

Lebanon’s state National News Agency reported that ambulances rushed to the site of Friday’s attack “after news that 5 soldiers suffered light wounds.”

 

The LAF rushed to the scene of the blast, with soldiers working to move the damaged military vehicle after evacuating the wounded troops.

 

Army troops also conducted raids on a refugee encampment near the bombsite, the NNA said in a later report.

 

The attack on the LAF comes after a blast went off Thursday during a gathering of sheikhs, mostly Syrian, at the Qalamoun Scholars Committee headquarters in the town’s commercial market.

 

The religious committee—which focuses on Syrian refugee issues in the border town—has served as a mediator seeking the release of Lebanese servicemen captured last year in Arsal by the Al-Nusra Front.

 

Qalamoun Muslim Committee chief Sheikh Othman Mansour, a Syrian national, was killed in the attack that left at least three others dead.

 

The nature of the blast remains unknown, with the NNA reporting that the blast ripped through a motorcycle outside the Committee’s headquarters. Lebanon’s state news agency earlier said that the remains of a purported suicide bomber had been taken to a local hospital.

 

Arsal has borne the brunt of the spillover of Syria’s conflict into Lebanon, with a number of violent attacks rocking the border town that hosts more refugees than Lebanese nationals.

 

In past years, Syrian helicopters conducted a number of airstrikes on the outskirts of the town, which has also been hit by rocket attacks. Militants have also conducted ambushes against the Lebanese army in the town.

 

LAF troops in the town have been targeted by IED explosions on three previous occasions last year, killing 5 soldiers and injuring a number of others.  

 

The most serious violence to beset Arsal came in August 2014, when Syrian Islamists conducted a cross-border rain, taking dozens of security personnel during 5-days of fierce battles.

Lebanese army on patrol in Arsal. (AFP)

The attack on the LAF comes after a blast went off Thursday during a gathering of sheikhs, mostly Syrian, at the Qalamoun Scholars Committee headquarters in the town’s commercial market.