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EU ‘Deeply Concerned’ About Islamist Attacks on Lebanese Army

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The European Union has condemned Islamists attacks on Lebanese military personnel and the ongoing fighting around the Lebanese city of Arsal in the country’s northeast, close to the border with Syria.

BRUSSELS, August 6 (RIA Novosti) – The European Union has condemned Islamists attacks on Lebanese military personnel and the ongoing fighting around the Lebanese city of Arsal in the country’s northeast, close to the border with Syria.

“We strongly condemn the assault by violent extremist groups on the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) in the area of Arsal in eastern Lebanon,” a spokesperson with the EU foreign office said in a press release Wednesday.

“This fighting has already led to the killing, wounding or abduction of a high number of Lebanese officers as well as Arsal residents and refugees. We express our sincere condolences to the families of all victims and call for the immediate release of those abducted,” a representative for Catherine Ashton, the EU high representative of the union for foreign affairs and security policy, stressed.

Brussels pledged its full support to the Lebanese Army in defending its country and people, and welcomed “the determination of Lebanese political leaders to put an end to terrorism and violent extremism.”

Clashes between Lebanese troops and Syrian militants from the violent Nusra Front and the Islamic State (IS) groups, who crossed over into Lebanon from the north, have killed at least 17 servicemen in Arsal and wounded almost a hundred. Some soldiers are reportedly being held captive by IS militants and thousands of civilians have fled the area.

The European Union said it deplored “the severe security, political, economic and social challenges Lebanon is facing as a result of the conflict in Syria,” and pledged more assistance to the country.

Over the weekend insurgents started targeting army border checkpoints. According to Reuters, militants are demanding that Lebanese authorities free Imad Ahmad Jomaa, a commander in the Syrian rebel forces that was captured at a border crossing last Friday.

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