Lebanon fears that Syria's Civil
War will Spill into their Borders
Neighboring Syria, Lebanon fears that the chaos wrought by
the civil war there will spill into their borders. A huge influx of Syrian
refugees, coupled with recent clashes between Lebanese army units and radical
Islamists fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have all fueled
has struggled over the past several months to contain the repercussions from
Syria.LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online):
The Lebanese have remained divided over the civil war in Syria since it started
two years ago. The nation fears that they will be dragged into the mayhem of
neighboring Syria's increasingly sectarian violence.
struggled over the past several months to contain the repercussions from Syria.
By far the biggest concern is there will be a clash between the Lebanese Shia
militia, Hezbollah, which backs Assad, and the country's Sunni Muslims, who
support Syrian Sunnis fighting to oust Assad.
A recent clash in the town
of Arsal near the Syrian border left two Lebanese soldiers dead. The incident
between the Lebanese army fighters aligned with Jabhat al-Nusra, a Jihadist
group has prompted pledges of a crackdown from Lebanese army
"Any hand that aggresses the army will be cut off," army
commander Jean Kahwagi declared. "We will pursue the attackers wherever they
are," he added.
According to General Khawaja, the clash in Arsal came
after Islamist fighters fired on an army patrol trying to hunt down a wanted
Jihadist leader. Lebanese Sunnis in the Arsal area claim the fighting was due to
increased friction between the army and local residents, most of whom are
Khaled Daher, a member of the Lebanese parliament and critic of
the government, says the army targets Sunni towns like Arsal because "they
support Syrian rebels" and help Syrian refugees fleeing the war in
In addition, Lebanese officials say there have been more al-Nusra
fighters streaming into Lebanon to use as a base where they can re-supply
themselves. Officials also report an increase in foreign Islamist fighters
transiting the country on their way to fight in the Syrian conflict.
the past, Lebanon and Syria have shared a complex web of sectarian ties and
rivalries. Tensions are rising in the north of Lebanon and the army has had to
step in more than half-a-dozen times to quash fighting in Tripoli between
Lebanese Sunni gunmen loyal to the Syrian rebels and pro-Assad Alawites or
Leaders in Tripoli believe there is little chance to prevent
further spillover from Syria's civil war. They also say they are heavily
involved in the Syrian conflict, supplying one side or the other with fighters,
weapons and intelligence information.