The rebel Free Syrian Army and Hezbollah fighters clashed in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley region as the uprising to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad spilled across the border for at least the third time in a week.
Several people died in the clashes, according to Al Arabiya television, which cited unidentified security officials. Fourteen Syrian opposition rebels were killed in overnight clashes in Baalbek, a city in the region, while one Hezbollah fighter was killed, the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International said on Twitter.
Hezbollah is fighting alongside Syrian government forces to retake the strategic city of al-Qusair from the mainly Sunni Muslim rebels. The militia’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, warned of instability in Lebanon if “foreign extremist” groups control areas in Syria along its border. The U.S. government classifies Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.
The Syrian uprising against al-Assad has inflamed sectarian tensions in Lebanon and sparked clashes between supporters and opponents of the Syrian government. Lebanon suffered a 15-year civil war that reduced parts of the capital to rubble.
At least 80,000 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising began in 2011, Vuk Jeremic, president of the United Nations’ General Assembly, said in May. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on May 22 said “upwards of 100,000 people” may have been killed.
Rockets hit the Bekaa town of Hermel earlier today, according to Lebanon’s official National News Agency. Hezbollah uses parts of the town as a stronghold. Two rockets exploded in a southern suburb of Beirut, injuring five people, Al Jazeera Television reported on May 26, citing its own correspondent.
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