MidEast

Lebanon Army Threatens Retaliation After Syrian Helicopter Attack

The Lebanese army is threatening to retaliate against future Syrian attacks on Lebanese territory. The pointedly explicit warning comes after Damascus launched a helicopter gunship attack on the Lebanese border town of Arsal and injured two:

The Lebanese army has warned it will immediately respond to any future cross-border attacks by Syrian government forces after an attack on a border town in northern Lebanon… “Army units deployed in the (Arsal) area took the necessary defensive measures to respond immediately to any similar violations,” the Lebanese army said in a statement.

Lebanese President Michel Sleiman also blasted the attack:

Lebanon’s president Michel Sleiman called the attack “a violation of Lebanon’s sovereignty” and said Beirut has the right to take steps to defend itself and to “submit a complaint” to the UN and the Arab League. The United States condemned the attack, with the State Department calling for “all parties to respect the stability, sovereignty and independence of Lebanon”. It described the attack as an “unacceptable provocation which risked dragging Lebanon into war.”

Arsal, a majority Sunni town near the Lebanese-Syrian border, has been targeted multiple times in recent months by the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria and by the regime’s allies.

The renewed crisis comes as Hezbollah is under criticism – significantly and increasingly in the Arab world – for dragging Lebanon into the violence in Syria. The Iran-backed terror group has vowed to fight in Syria until the regime succeeds in putting down the country’s more than two year rebellion.

Hezbollah’s material and logistical support for the Assad regime, which has now repeatedly attacked Lebanon, sits uneasily alongside claims made in corners of the foreign policy community to the effect that Hezbollah is an indigenous Lebanese organization protecting Lebanese sovereignty and pursuing Lebanese interests.

[Photo: Markar Toumayan / Youtube]