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Friday, October 7, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Lebanon sounds alarm after second incursion
by Syrian Army in two months

NICOSIA — Lebanon has reported another attack by the Syrian Army.


Officials said the Syrian Army launched an operation in eastern Lebanon. They said Syrian troops and armored vehicles attacked an abandoned warehouse in the Bekaa Valley.

"The Lebanese government should send a strongly-worded complaint to Syria over the matter," Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea said.

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The Syrian attack took place on Oct. 4 in the Arsal region near Lebanon's eastern border. Officials said Russian-origin BTR-3 infantry-fighting vehicles fired and destroyed a former battery factory believed to contain Syrian refugees who fled the civil war in their country.

This marked the second reported Syrian incursion into Lebanon in as many months. Lebanon has been accused by the regime of President Bashar Assad of harboring Syrian rebels and defecting soldiers, Middle East Newsline reported.

"This is very serious," Phalange Party leader Amin Gemayel, a former president, said. "What took place was a serious breach of Lebanese sovereignty."

Opposition leaders called on the Lebanese Army to bolster defenses to prevent Syrian incursions. They said the army must establish checkpoints and border facilities near areas vulnerable to Syrian operations.

Officials said the Syrian force also attacked a Lebanese home in the Bekaa. They acknowledged that the government of Lebanese Prime Minister Naji Miqati has failed to protest the Syrian incursion.

"The agencies and the Lebanese Army are fulfilling their duties," Lebanese Justice Minister Shakib Qortbawi said. "Everything else remains political talk."

Officials said about 5,000 Syrians have fled into Lebanon since the revolt against Assad in March. They said the Assad regime has not brought evidence that any of them was involved in attacks on Syrian security forces.

"We are awaiting for clarification from the security forces over what took place in Arsal," Lebanese opposition parliamentarian Jamal Jarrah said.

The Syrian Islamic opposition was said to have been holding secret talks with Lebanese Christian leaders regarding a post-Assad Syria. The London-based daily A-Sharq Al Awsat reported on Oct. 6 that so-called Salafists, said to share Al Qaida's philosophy, held five meetings with Christian and Sunni political leaders over the last few months.

"Muslims and Christians are cooperating to make these meetings successful," an informed source told the Saudi-owned newspaper.

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