Eight Lebanese soldiers have been killed in clashes with gunmen on the Syrian border that erupted after the detention of a suspected Syrian terrorist, the army said on Sunday.
The clashes are some of the worst in the tense border area of Arsal in eastern Lebanon, with gunmen opening fire on Lebanese soldiers and police.
They erupted on Saturday afternoon, after the detention of a Syrian man who the army said admitted being a member of Al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, Al-Nusra Front.
On Sunday morning, the fighting was continuing, and the army said it had lost eight troops.
“Army units continued military operations in the Arsal area and its surroundings throughout the night and into the morning, pursuing and engaging armed groups,” the military said in a Sunday morning statement.
“During the battles the army lost eight martyrs and a number of others have been wounded,” it added.
Throughout the night, the army said, troops battled gunmen who fired mortar shells at Arsal and the surrounding region, in eastern Lebanon.
The clashes began on Saturday afternoon after soldiers arrested Imad Ahmed Jumaa, a Syrian man accused of belonging to Al-Nusra Front.
Gunmen angered by the arrest surrounded army checkpoints in the region before opening fire on troops and storming a police post in the town of Arsal, security sources said.
Two civilians were reported killed in the storming of the police post, and local media said the gunmen had also taken a number of policemen hostage, though there was no immediate confirmation.
Earlier, the army said two soldiers had been briefly held by the gunmen, before troops were able to free them.