Residents of Bekaa Valley Demand to Take Up Arms against Gunmen

Residents of the Bekaa Valley are reportedly demanding to take up arms, fearing an expected attack by fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant on New Year's eve.

According to Ad Diyar newspaper published on Sunday, the residents of Brital, Younine, al-Labweh, Nabi Othman, Fakiha, Ras Baalbek and al-Qaa are calling on the state to arm them to foil any attack by terrorists.

Media reports said on Saturday that the recent infiltration attempts by gunmen into the northeastern border region of Arsal as a sign that these forces are seeking to break the army's siege of the area.

The nearby border is long and porous, and has proved an easy crossing point for smugglers, refugees and fighters.

Tens of thousands of Syrian refugees are being hosted in the town, and opposition fighters have bases in the mountainous border area outside Arsal.

The town was overrun briefly in August by al-Nusra Front and Islamic State group jihadists coming from Syria, who withdrew after several days of fighting.

They took with them some Lebanese policemen and soldiers as hostages, and have since executed four of them.

Sources told Ad Diyar newspaper that security forces have upped measures around Rihaniyeh military prison and Roumieh jail after obtaining information that gunmen will target them with attacks.

The daily said that the Qaida-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigades will attack several check points near the two facilities in order to free Islamist prisoners.

Dozens of Islamist inmates are held in Roumieh. They are awaiting trial for their alleged involvement in the clashes between Fatah al-Islam terrorist group and the Lebanese army in the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared in 2007.

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