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Syrian air raids hit Lebanese border region

The area around Arsal has long been home to smuggling routes used by opposition forces to move fighters and weapons.

Last updated: 05 Mar 2014 12:38
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Syrian war planes and helicopters regularly carry out air strikes near the Lebanese border [Al Jazeera]

Syrian military helicopters have launched three raids in areas inside Lebanon close to the border town of Arsal, witnesses and Lebanon's official news agency said.

On Wednesday, helicopters carried out the raids in the largely unpopulated mountainous areas on the outskirts of Arsal near the Syrian border, witnesses told the AFP news agency.

It was unclear if there were any casualties in the raids, which Lebanon's National News Agency said hit the areas of Khirbet Yunin and Wadi Ajram.

Syrian war planes and helicopters regularly carry out air strikes and rocket attacks in the border area inside Lebanese territory.

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In December, the Lebanese army used its air defence systems against Syrian helicopters after one such attack in the area around Arsal. That was believed to be the first time the Lebanese army had responded to a raid, though it had previously threatened to do so.

Arsal's residents support the revolt against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the town is hosting tens of thousands of refugees, including a recent influx driven out by a new offensive just across the border in the Qalamoun region.

Deputy mayor Ahmad Fliti said the strikes hit Arsal early on Wednesday morning, towards a rugged area where Syrian refugees have a sprawling tent encampment. He told the Associated Press news agency there are no reports of injuries.

Fliti said the strikes have intensified since forces loyal to Assad launched a push to seize the rebel-held town of Yabroud that lies inside Syria, near Arsal.

Yabroud is part of an important rebel supply route that leads to pro-Syrian rebel towns in Lebanon, including Arsal.

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