Lebanese Army Kill 2, Arrests 27 Militants in Border Town

Police members of U.N. peacekeepers of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon patrol near the Lebanese-Israeli border. Lebanese army officials on Wednesday claimed arresting 27 militants near the border with Syria. REUTERS/Aziz Taher

BEIRUT, Feb 3 – Lebanese soldiers killed two gunmen and arrested at least 27 suspected militants, including a commander from the Daesh group, in a raid in the town of Arsal near the border with Syria, a security source on Wednesday.

The source said that among those detained was Abu Bakr Al Raqqawi, a local commander of the Daesh group, and three high profile insurgents.

He said the army carried out the raid after receiving intelligence that Raqqawi and others were in the northeastern town, which has suffered from a spillover of violence from nearly five years of conflict in Syria.

Nusra Front and Daesh fighters have staged regular incursions into Arsal from the barren hills just outside the town. They overran the town briefly in 2014 before withdrawing to the hills after clashes with the army.

But security sources say that Nusra and Daesh groups continue to have a strong presence in the town, where thousands of Syrian refugees live in dire conditions. They say sometimes the insurgents descend into the town at night to threaten or kill those who oppose them.

Nusra Front freed 16 Lebanese soldiers and policemen in December in exchange for the release of jailed Islamists. It had captured the soldiers during the Arsal incursion in 2014. Daesh is believed to be still holding nine soldiers it captured.

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