6 Troops Killed, 1 Hurt as Gunmen Ambush Army Patrol in Ras Baalbekإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Six Lebanese troops were killed and a soldier was injured Tuesday as militants staged an ambush against an army patrol in the outskirts of the town of Ras Baalbek on Syria's border.
An army statement said the patrol was conducting a “surveillance mission” in the area at 5:15 pm when it “fell into an armed ambush by a terrorist group.”
“A clash ensued between the patrol's members and the terrorist group, which resulted in the martyrdom of six soldiers as a seventh sustained non-lethal injuries,” the statement added.
The attack prompted the army to “send reinforcements to the area as military units took the appropriate military measures,” said the statement.
Media reports said the Airborne Regiment shelled the positions of the gunmen with mortars and fired flares to prevent any infiltration.
Meanwhile, MTV said “the bodies of the six troops and the wounded soldier were transferred to the Universal Hospital in Baalbek.”
Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3) identified the wounded soldier as Jamal al-Merehbi, saying he hails from the northern city of Tripoli.
It identified the slain troops as “Sergeant Ali Yazbek, the soldiers Mashhad Sharafeddine and Mohammed Ali Suleiman, and the conscripts Ali Hamad, Rabih al-Adi and Mohammed Slim.”
The clashes come two days after the British Telegraph newspaper reported that a British team had saved Ras Baalbek from a "massacre" by advancing Islamic State (IS) militants through constructing a network of military watchtowers in the town.
MTV said later on Tuesday that "the IS group confirmed that it intended to target a British border watchtower before it was forced to engage in a battle with the Lebanese army in Ras Baalbek's outskirts."
The attack also comes amid media reports that Lebanon detained in the nearby town of Arsal a wife and young son of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of the jihadist IS group that has seized large parts of Syria and Iraq.
In recent months, Syria-based IS and al-Nusra Front fighters have fought several battles with Hizbullah and the Lebanese and Syrian armies in the border region.
IS and Nusra militants briefly overran the northeastern border town of Arsal in early August. They abducted a number of troops and policemen as they withdrew from the town.
Three hostages have already been killed by the two groups, and the country has been on edge for months over the fate of the remaining soldiers and policemen.