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Syrian missiles hit Lebanese territory near border

BEIRUT — Missiles fired by Syrian war planes hit Lebanese territory Monday in one of the most serious cross-border violations since Syria's crisis began 18 months ago, security officials in Beirut and Lebanese state media said.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, said four missiles fired by two Syrian jets hit a rugged and remote area on the edge of the Lebanese border town Arsal. No casualties were immediately reported.

Lebanese President Michel Suleiman ordered an investigation into the border shelling Monday without openly blaming Syria.

Lebanon's state-run National News Agency reported that the planes fired three missiles that fell about 500 yards from the border between the two countries.

"I heard several explosions and saw four clouds of dust billowing from the area," Arsal resident Nayeh Izzedine said by telephone. "I don't know if it was an air raid, but there was a plane in the sky."

He added that the town had been quiet two hours after the 10 a.m. attack.

The Syrian forces were believed to be chasing rebels in the area, which has been the site of clashes in the past between opposition fighters battling Syrian troops just on the other side of the frontier. Lebanese armed forces have in the past detained people in the region for trying to smuggle weapons into Syria from Lebanon.

Arsal is a predominantly Sunni Muslim town, like the majority of Syria's opposition that is trying to oust President Bashar Assad. Assad belongs to the minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

Syrian shells have hit Lebanese territory in the past, but the air raid appears to be the most serious violation.

Several Lebanese people, including a journalist, have been killed and dozens wounded by fire coming from the Syrian side.

Also Monday, Syrian troops shelled rebel-held areas around the country including the northern city of Aleppo, Syria's largest, and the Damascus neighborhood of Hajar Aswad, activists said.

U.N.: Civilians are Syria's hardest hit

BEIRUT — U.N. investigators said civilians are bearing the brunt of indiscriminate air and ground assaults in Syria's fighting between rebels and the government. The report was presented to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva by Paulo Pinheiro, the Brazilian investigator leading a U.N. inquiry commission. The report, completed last month, says that both government and anti-government forces committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.

New York Times

Syrian missiles hit Lebanese territory near border 09/17/12 [Last modified: Monday, September 17, 2012 10:24pm]
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