Thursday 14 December 2017

Syrian jets fire into Lebanon in border warning

Loveday Morris Beirut

Lebanon is grappling to maintain its fragile peace as Syrian fighter jets fired rockets into its territory in what appeared to be an act of admonition from Damascus as it demands a clampdown on militants and arms crossing the border.

The rockets caused no casualties but sparked panic in the border town of Arsal, home to refugees, rebel fighters and weapons smugglers.

The attack came as Syria's opposition National Coalition met in Istanbul to attempt to form a transitional government.

As the two-year civil war marches on next door, Lebanon is facing an escalating array of threats to its stability, struggling with sectarian clashes and the burden of hundreds of thousands of refugees.

Protesters blocked roads in Beirut for a second day yesterday after four Sunni sheikhs were attacked in two incidents over the weekend.

The strikes near the border were only the second time Syrian planes have struck Lebanon during the conflict. Damascus threatened three days ago to strike in Lebanon if border security did not improve.

"People are scared," said Wafic Khalaf of Arsal's municipal council. "It's a warning."

In Istanbul, the National Coalition is expected to vote on a prime minister today.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry said his government would not stand in the way of British and French efforts to arm the rebels as they lobby for the end to the EU arms embargo against the country. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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