Syrian troops kill man inside Lebanon: security official

Syrian troops entered Lebanese territory on Thursday and shot dead a Syrian living in a remote border area of the eastern Bekaa region, a security official told AFP.

“At around 2:30 pm (1130 GMT), in an area called Saaba, next to Aarsal, Syrian troops entered Lebanese territory and opened fire on farmer Ali al-Khatib, a Syrian national,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

“His body is still on site and a probe is underway.”

He said al-Khatib was married to a Lebanese and lived in the area, where the border is not clearly delineated.

A government official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the incident and said it was unclear why al-Khatib was targeted or how he was killed.

“The area in question is very remote and right along the border,” he said.

Earlier this week, Syrian tanks entered the same region in a brief incursion that raised fears of the revolt against the regime in Damascus spilling over into Lebanon.

An estimated 5,000 Syrians have sought refuge in Lebanon in recent months, among them deserting soldiers and members of the opposition.

Prime Minister Najib Mikati told AFP earlier Thursday that his government was committed to providing shelter for the refugees.

“My approach to these refugees coming to Lebanon is purely humanitarian,” said Mikati, whose government is controlled by the powerful militant group Hezbollah and its allies, which support the Syrian regime.

“We are assisting these people … providing them with medical assistance, schooling and shelter.”

Washington has urged Lebanese authorites to protect Syrian opposition members, following reports some were being hunted down and sent back to Syria.

Questioned about this week’s incursion and reports of similar incidents, Mikati said a joint Syrian-Lebanese committee was closely following the matter.

“I am not being silent about this, we are dealing with the issue normally,” he said, noting the permeability of the border.

“I don’t want to blow these incidents out of proportion and I don’t want to belittle them either.

Friday, October 7, 2011
BEIRUT – Agence France-Presse