Lebanese Army Opens Anti-Aircraft Fire after Syrian Airstrike

The Lebanese army opened anti-aircraft fire on Monday at Syrian warplanes that hovered the eastern border town of Arsal.

According to state-run National News Agency, the Syrian warplanes prompted the Lebanese army to respond after it raided Khirbet Daoud, which lies in the Eastern Mountain Range in an area adjacent to the barren mountains of the town of Arsal.

LBCI reported that Syrian warplanes hit the area with three rockets.

According to Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3), six people were killed and 20 others injured after Syrian security forces thwarted an attempt to infiltrate from al-Qaa in Arsal into the Syrian border town of Jousiyeh.

It was the first time since the outbreak of the Syria's conflict three years ago that the Lebanese military took action to prevent Syrian warplanes from violating its airspace.

There was no immediate comment from the Lebanese military or from the Syrian government.

A meeting of Arsal officials later on Monday condemned the Syrian shelling, but praised the Lebanese army “for defending us and the Lebanese border.”

They hoped that its anti-aircraft fire would pave the way for the army to act as the sole defender of Lebanese land and sovereignty against any assaults.

They expressed their pride in the army and noted that its retaliation complements President Michel Suleiman's recent positions aimed at safeguarding Lebanon.

Arsal has a long shared border with Syria, stretching along much of Damascus province and part of Homs province.

Since the eruption of the neighboring country's war, Arsal has repeatedly been targeted with Syrian rockets.

Smugglers have long taken their goods across the porous border, and since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in March 2011, weapons and fighters have moved across the border too.

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