x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Lebanese army fighting terrorism, ‘paying the price in blood’

Spillover from the war in Syria heightens the risk of attacks on Lebanon's army, after three people were killed in a bombing earlier this week.

BEIRUT // Lebanon’s army says it is “paying the price in blood” as Syria’s war continues to spill across borders, after a suicide car bombing killed two soldiers and a civilian.

Hizbollah also condemned Saturday’s attack, calling the perpetrators “the enemy of all the Lebanese”.

Both statements came hours after a car bomb exploded at a checkpoint at the entrance to Hermel in eastern Lebanon near the border with Syria where Hizbollah is a dominant force.

Three people were killed and 18 wounded, the official National News Agency said.

“Once again, the Lebanese army is paying the price in the blood of its soldiers to fight terrorism, and to establish social peace,” the army said.

It said the attack had been intended to “sow fear and chaos,” and that all Lebanese “should stand by the military”.

Hizbollah also condemned the blast.

“This latest crime proves that such terrorism is not looking for causes or reasons to carry out its crimes, and that it is a danger for the whole of Lebanon,” it said.

The bomb was the third this month targeting areas of Lebanon where Hizbollah, which is helping the Syrian regime battle insurgents, holds sway.

It was claimed by Al Nusra Front in Lebanon, a group named after Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, indicating it was because of Hizbollah involvement in the Syrian conflict.

While Hizbollah-dominated areas have been the main focus of such attacks, many of them claimed by radical Sunni groups, the army has also been targeted.

Extremist Sunnis see the army as siding with Hizbollah in escalating Syria-related violence in Lebanon.

The Shiite group says its involvement in Syria is aimed at safeguarding Lebanon from “terror”, but its Lebanese opponents say the Hizbollah presence there has caused Islamist militants to attack Syria’s tiny neighbour.

* Agence France-Presse