Syria's fighting spills into Lebanon, five killed

Sat Jul 7, 2012 2:46pm GMT
 

By Oliver Holmes

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syria's conflict spilled further into Lebanon on Saturday when mortar fire from President Bashar al-Assad's forces hit villages in the north, killing five people after rebels crossed the border to seek refuge, residents said.

Rebels fighting to unseat Assad have used north Lebanon as a base and his forces have at times bombed villages and even pursued insurgents over the border, threatening to stoke tension in Lebanon, whose sectarian divisions mirror those in Syria.

Residents of Lebanon's Wadi Khaled region said several mortar bombs hit farm buildings five to 20 km (3 to 12 miles) from the border at around 2 a.m. At midday villagers reported more explosions and said they heard gunfire close to the border.

In the village of al-Mahatta, a house was destroyed, killing a 16-year-old girl and wounding a two-year old and a four-year old, family members told Reuters. A 25-year-old woman and a man were killed in nearby villages, residents said.

Two Bedouins were killed in the village of Hishe, which straddles a river demarcating the border, when two rocket-propelled grenades fired from within Syria hit their tent, according to local residents.

Lebanon's army confirmed one of the deaths and said several Syrian shells had landed in Lebanese territory, but had no further information. Lebanese President Michel Suleiman issued a statement regretting the deaths and promising an investigation.

Syria's bloodshed has also encroached on the territory of Turkey, a much bigger and more militarily powerful neighbour. Ankara, a former Assad friend turned foe, reinforced its frontier and scrambled fighter aircraft several times after Syria shot down a Turkish reconnaissance jet on June 22.

DIPLOMATIC IMPASSE   Continued...

 
Powered by Reuters AlertNet. AlertNet provides news, images and insight from the world's disasters and conflicts and is brought to you by Reuters Foundation.