Officials said the army conducted house-to-house searches in Zabadani
and arrested more than 150 people. They said infantry units were led by
Military Intelligence, which contained names of suspected defectors who
joined the opposition to Assad.
The army operation was said to have met stiff resistance. Syria
opposition sources said hundreds of Sunni Muslim defectors fought gun
battles with Assad forces, with many of them believed to have escaped to
Over the last three months, the Assad regime has determined that the
330-kilometer border with Lebanon was being used for weapons smuggling to
the Syrian opposition. The Lebanese border, repeatedly infiltrated by Syrian
troops, contains at least 50 unauthorized crossing points.
On Oct. 14, the Lebanese Army reported the capture of a weapons delivery
toward Syria about 140 kilometers north of Beirut. The weapons cache was
said to have contained automatic weapons and rocket-propelled launchers.
Officials said the Sunni community in Lebanon, including those around
former Lebanese Prime Minister Said Hariri, was believed to be financing the
weapons smuggling to Syria. Hariri has denied any involvement and said
Alawites were the leading consumers of illegal weapons.
The Assad regime has sought to coordinate border security with the
Lebanese government. In mid-October, army commanders from both countries
discussed measures to block arms smuggling.