Syria Bombards Lebanese Town Shielding Refugees as War Crosses Border

Lebanon’s Daily Star reported early Friday morning that the Syrian army had launched what the outlet described as “a series of artillery strikes” on the Lebanese town of Tfail, sending Lebanese residents and Syrian refugees who have taken shelter in the town “flee[ing] into the surrounding hills”:

“Syrians from all villages surrounding Tfail have fled to the town in the wake of the Syrian army’s offensive,” said Zeynab, a Syrian aid worker in the village.

The remote town, home to 3,000 Lebanese and some 5,000 Syrian refugees, found itself in the Syrian Army’s sights earlier this week.

“The village was bombarded throughout Tuesday by the Syrian Army,” Zeynab told The Daily Star Friday. Many Lebanese residents and Syrian refugees have fled the town, seeking refuge in the surrounding hills on the Syrian side of the border.

Tfail is technically a Lebanese territory with Lebanese citizens, but the only reliable roads connecting it to the outside world run through Syria. Those roads have been closed off by Hezbollah forces in an attempt to stem the transit of rebel elements back and forth across the Lebanon-Syria border.

Lebanese Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk was quoted Friday by the pan-Arab Ash-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper declaring that Beirut was coordinating with Hezbollah to allow residents to flee the town:

“The Lebanese state’s main concern is protecting the residents of this village and keeping it at a distance from internal Syrian conflicts,” said Machnouk, an MP with the Future Movement.

Machnouk said he was working on a plan to create a road that would connect Tfail to Lebanon, saying the 23-kilometer street “is not that easy given that the area was planted with mines.”

Syrian forces also attacked the Lebanese city of Arsal on Thursday, dispatching a helicopter to conduct at least two air raids.

Hezbollah has been heavily criticized by a range of Lebanese figures for entangling the country in Syria’s three-year-long conflict, but regime attacks on Lebanese territory are particularly problematic for the organization. The Iran-backed terror group justifies its existence – and more specifically, the massively armed state-within-a-state that it maintains inside Lebanon – as necessary to protect Lebanese sovereignty and prevent attacks on Lebanese territory.

Attacks on Lebanese towns by the Assad regime, to which it has provided critical assistance, are in tension with those claims.

[Photo: Bedri Serdar / YouTube]