London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Nine displaced Syrian nationals were killed Saturday in a airstrike near the Arsal border region in the Beka’a valley, according to reports.
A further nine were injured during the attacks and are being treated at the General Hospital and other medical facilities in Baalbek, the Lebanese National News Agency reported.
There were conflicting reports as to whether the airstrikes took place on Lebanese or Syrian territory. The Hezbollah-run news outlet Al-Manar said that any such attacks had taken place on Syrian soil, claiming, “Nine dead and 10 wounded were transferred from Syria to Lebanon.”
The mayor of Arsal, Ali Al-Hajiry, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Syrian Air Force had carried out two raids. The first had targeted Khubra Dawud, a village to the east of Arsal. The second, Hajiry says, took place in Jardiyah—part of the Arsal municipality—killing six displaced Syrians.
A Lebanese security official, speaking to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity, told that the airstrike had been targeting a Syrian border town under rebel control. Yabroud, in the countryside around Damascus, is roughly 12 miles (19 kilometers) from the Lebanese border and 20 miles (32 kilometers) from the Lebanese town of Arsal.
Syrian warplanes have targeted Lebanese territory before. When four missiles—fired by two Syrian jets—struck Arsal last September, Lebanese president Michel Suleiman ordered an investigation into the incident.
Arsal—both a village and a municipality—is home to many refugees that have fled from towns and cities in neighboring war-torn Syria. Many are thought to have arrived from Al-Qusayr, where Lebanese Hezbollah militias spearheaded operations against the former rebel stronghold.
The Iranian-backed Shi’ite organization plays a major role in Lebanon’s politics, where it carries out various social and political functions. It also commands a powerful and well-equipped militia, which was recently designated as a terrorist organization by the European Union. The Gulf Cooperation Council has also condemned Hezbollah for its involvement in the Syrian conflict.
Meanwhile, rebel operations north of Damascus led to the capture of an arms depot. Rebel groups led by the Al-Qaeda affiliated movement Jabhat Al-Nusra seized weapons and ammunition. The assault yielded sought-after anti-tank rockets, including European-made MILAN guided missiles.