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Syrian troops battle rebels as clashes spill into Lebanon

Published time: March 27, 2012 09:56
Edited time: March 27, 2012 18:00
(AFP Photo / Mahmoud Zayat)

(AFP Photo / Mahmoud Zayat)

Syrian troops crossed into Lebanese territory and clashed with opposition forces there, according to eye witness reports. Other sources say there was no actual incursion.

­Some 35 Syrian soldiers riding in armored personnel vehicles and armed with machine guns and rocket propelled grenade launchers took part in the clashes, says Reuters, citing local residents.

The cross border attack, which left several farm buildings destroyed, was carried out on opposition fighters who are taking refuge in northern Lebanon.

A conflicting report says the clashes in the Mashareaa al-Qaa area did not involve an incursion. AP cites local police officials saying that the Syrian troops remained on their side of the border, but some bullets crossed into Lebanese territory.

Lebanon is located between the southern part of Syria and the Mediterranean Sea. According to the Syrian government, its poorly secured border with Lebanon has been a focal point for opposition forces smuggling weapons into the country.

The city of Homs, which was at the forefront of a major confrontation between Syria’s armed opposition and government forces last month, is located just some 25 kilometers from the Lebanese border.

­James Corbet, an independent journalist specializing in the Middle East, believes that circulating news about Syrian troops crossing into Lebanon are designed “to portray Assad as this insane agent who can`t be reasoned with.”

“It is just an attempt to make it seem that Assad is completely unreasonable and won`t be able to come to the table, which of course will only perpetuate the destabilization that is going on,” he said.