Syria Conflict Spills Further Into Lebanon

Article Summary
The number of Syrian refugees crossing into Lebanon swelled in the last couple of days. At the same time, Lebanese families who say they heard shelling from their homes have started to move deeper into Lebanon, according to Al-Hayat. Now, politicians and citizens alike are calling on Lebanon to develop a clear plan for the displaced.

The al-Masnaa border crossing between Lebanon and Syria was quiet on July 22, after a heavy inflow from Damascus and Rif Dimashq to Beirut and other areas in Lebanon. A number of displaced Syrians reported heavy deployment of militants next to Jdeidet Yabous on the Syrian side of the border who checked their identity cards. The Lebanese town of al-Jura in the al-Kaa district calmed down after it was reported that some 30 Syrian soldiers had entered the region, opened fire and searched a number of houses.

Witnesses said that the sound of shelling and gunfire coming from the Syrian side reached the area. This later progressed into snipers’ bullets reaching the town, driving a number of families to leave their houses over the past two days. One of the town inhabitants said that the residents were shocked as they returned to their houses and saw that Syrian troops had entered them. This prompted them to call on the Lebanese Army in the region, which replied that the army command must be contacted prior to any action. The same witness added that the residents returned to their houses accompanied by Lebanese soldiers to gather their belongings and left.

The sound of rocket-propelled grenades and artillery could be heard in towns and villages from the Central Bekaa up to the Riyak-Baalbek international highway, which is located more than 30 kilometers (18 miles) from the Lebanese-Syrian border. Security sources said that the sound came from Syrian artillery emplacements in Kfar Yabous, located at the Lebanese-Syrian border, and that some neighborhoods in Damascus were also shelled from these heights, where armed clashes took place early that day. 

Future bloc MP Assem Araji clarified that “the inflow of displaced Syrians into Lebanon was heavy on Wednesday [July 18] as the clashes in Damascus started,” adding that “traffic began from the Al-Masnaa crossing point between Lebanon and Syria to the Jdeidit Yabous border checkpoint in Syria.” He also said that “the day before yesterday [July 21], there were 6,300 new arrivals from Syria, and this number is expected to increase in the coming days.”

In a phone conversation with the LBC television channel, Araji said that “the number of new arrivals decreased yesterday as clashes took place along al-Mazza road leading to Lebanon, thus the flow of newcomers decreased.” He added, “From Lebanon, we can clearly hear the sound of shelling.”

Regarding the way Lebanon is dealing with displaced Syrians, Araji said, “So far there is no official decision to tell the public school directors to open their gates for the displaced. The only decision that was taken stipulated the opening of three schools in Majdal Anjar and El-Marej.” He added that “aid is coming from different associations, but it is insufficient... The responsibility falls upon the state. UNHCR is recording information regarding the number of displaced Syrians, but UNHCR is not providing any aid.” He continued, “We call on the government to develop a clear and specific plan for the displaced, in order to avoid any problem in case their number rises.”

On the other hand, Sheikh Nabil Kaouk, the deputy chairman of Hezbollah’s Executive Council said that “what is taking place in Syria is a foreign aggression orchestrated by the US and funded by Arabs. There are fighters, militants and intelligence personnel from different countries around the world waging a war against Syria. But since all of their attempts to bring down the regime have failed, they chose to keep the wound bleeding.”

At a funeral in the southern village of Armati, Kaouk said, “Today, Arab money is trading in the blood of Syrians. They want to oust [the regime in] Syria to change the equation in the conflict with Israel, and make Syria weak and depleted in the coming war.” He asserted that “so far the Syrian conflict produced results that are opposite to what the US and its tools in the region want... One of the most important results is that the unilateral control exercised by the US over the world has been destroyed, and their weakness and inability to impose their hegemony over the UN Security Council and manage the world’s affairs have been revealed.”

Found in: unhcr, syrian refugees in lebanon, syrian refugees, syrian, nabil kaouk, jdeidet yabous border gate, hezbollah, assem araji, al-masnaa border crossing, al-jura town

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