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Syrian warplane strikes Lebanese border


Syrian air force jets fired four rockets at a remote section of the border with Lebanon on Monday, security sources said, four days after Damascus warned it may strike at Syrian rebels taking refuge across the frontier.

"Syrian planes bombed the border between Lebanon and Syria but I cannot yet say if they hit Lebanese territory or only Syrian territory," a high-ranking military official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

A Lebanese security services official on the ground told AFP that four missiles were fired at Syrian rebel positions on the Lebanese side of the border.

The warplanes hit Wadi al-Khayl, an uninhabited agricultural area in the Bekaa Valley near the town of Ersal, Al-Akhbar's correspondent reported. He added that not all of the four missiles had reached Lebanon, but that the area had not yet been investigated.

There were no reports of casualties from the air strike.

Lebanon has a policy of dissociation from the two-year civil war in Syria, but the conflict has already exacerbated tensions in the country, as many express fear that it could spill over into Lebanon.

Syria's Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that a "large number" of militants had crossed Lebanon's northern border into the Syrian town of Tel Kalakh last week.

"Syria expects the Lebanese side to prevent these armed terrorist groups from using the borders as a crossing point, because they target Syrian people and are violating Syrian sovereignty," it said in a message to the Lebanese government, according to state media.

It said Syria's "patience is not unlimited", even though "Syrian forces have so far exercised restraint from striking at armed gangs inside Lebanese territory."

On Saturday, a Lebanese government source said Beirut was taking the warning "very seriously" and that "intensive consultations are underway to find the best way to control the border."

Lebanon's president Michel Sleiman on Saturday urged "neutrality" in the Syrian conflict, and warned against sending fighters into Syria.

The conflict has not always been contained within Syria, as stray mortar shells and bullets occasionally cross the country's borders.

(Al-Akhbar, Reuters, AFP)

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