BEIRUT – Seven Lebanese soldiers were wounded on Friday as five militants blew themselves up and a sixth threw a grenade during raids on two refugee camps near the border with Syria, the army said.
The civil war, which has raged in Syria since March 2011, has triggered an exodus of more than 1.1 million refugees into neighboring Lebanon and has repeatedly spilt over.
Four of the suicide bombers struck in one camp near the border town of Arsal, wounding three soldiers, the army said.
Troops recovered four explosive devices during the raid on the Al-Nur camp.
One militant blew himself up in a second camp near the town — Al-Qariya — while another militant threw a grenade at troops wounding four of them.
The raids, which are aimed at “arresting terrorists and seizing weapons,” were still continuing in mid-morning, the army command said.
A military source said that troops made a number of arrests.
“The objective of the operation was to arrest a wanted man and it was this man who was the first to blow himself up,” the source said.
There have been multiple clashes along the border between the Lebanese army and jihadists of the Islamic State group or Al-Qaeda.
In August 2014, the army clashed with jihadists of IS and Al-Qaeda’s then Syria affiliate Al-Nusra Front in the Arsal region, with militants kidnapping 30 Lebanese soldiers and policemen as they withdrew back along the border.
After long and arduous negotiations, 16 of the kidnapped men were released in December 2015 in exchange for Islamist prisoners held in Lebanese jail.
The jihadists executed four of their hostages while a fifth died of wounds he suffered in the initial Arsal clashes, leaving nine members of Lebanon’s security forces still in their hands.
Since 2014, both the Lebanese army and Shiite militant group Hezbollah have carried out attacks on Syria-based jihadists in eastern Lebanon.
Hezbollah has intervened in the war in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad, sending tens of thousands of fighters.
Its strongholds in Lebanon have been hit by several deadly attacks claimed by IS.
Source: Middle East Online.