Protests flare across Lebanon against 'siege' of border town

March 19, 2014 00:52

BEIRUT - Lebanese demonstrators blocked several roads throughout the country on Tuesday evening in protest at what they called a "siege" on the Sunni Muslim town of Arsal on the border with Syria.

The road to Arsal was blocked by residents of the Shi'ite Muslim town of al-Labwa who erected sand barriers this weekend, a security source said, cutting it off from other parts of Lebanon.

In the Beirut suburb of Qasqas, five protesters were wounded when the army fired tear gas into the crowd, the security source said. In the northern majority Sunni province of Akkar, armed men fired on an army vehicle wounding three soldiers, the source said.

The blockade follows days of rocket attacks on Labwa which residents blame on Sunni rebels who have fled Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces into Arsal, where tens of thousands of refugees live.

The border area has been steadily sucked into Syria's three-year-old conflict as Syrian troops and jets target rebel bases on the frontier and suspected Syrian rebels fire rockets at Shi'ite towns to punish the Shi'ite Lebanese militant group Hezbollah for supporting Assad.

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