The army in Lebanon moved into a town along the border with Syria that had been attacked by militant Islamists via an incursion over the weekend from Syria. The army found 50 bodies that were militants, who had died in the weekend fighting, said a security official from Lebanon.
The army hit areas surrounding Arsal, the border town, for a third day with artillery in an attempt to expel the Islamist militants whose incursion over the border into Lebanon was the first since the civil war in Syria started more than 3 years ago.
Thirteen Lebanese soldiers had been confirmed killed during the fighting, which started after the security forces from Lebanon arrested a Nusra Front commander on Saturday. The Front is an affiliate of al-Qaeda in the civil war in Syria.
The army in Lebanon described the Nusra Front incursion as an attack that was planned and carried out by radicals that are Sunni, including members of the Islamic State an offshoot of al-Qaeda that has taken control of large swathes of territory in both Syria and Iraq.
Up to as many as 24 members of the security forces in Lebanon both police and army, have been either taken hostage or have been labeled missing. Grey and black smoke plumes billowed from hilltops near the town of Arsal.
In a prepared statement, the army in Lebanon said it had full control of a school the militants seized in the incursion. The army said a number of their soldiers had been wounded or killed during the fighting.
Arsal is a town with a population of mostly Sunnis located on the border of Lebanon and Syria, between the Syrian territory that is government controlled and the Shi’ite areas of Lebanon that are sympathetic to the Hezbollah, the militant group from Lebanon that is backed by Iran and fighting alongside the forces of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.
No word has been released by the Lebanese government about the incursion over the weekend.