Lebanese troops deploy in the eastern town of Arsal near the Syrian border on August 28, 2014
Lebanese troops deploy in the eastern town of Arsal near the Syrian border on August 28, 2014 © - AFP/File
Lebanese troops deploy in the eastern town of Arsal near the Syrian border on August 28, 2014
AFP
Last updated: September 17, 2014

Gunmen kidnap Lebanon soldier near Syria

Gunmen kidnapped a Lebanese soldier Wednesday as he visited family near Arsal, a town bordering Syria that saw fighting between the army and jihadists last month, a security source said.

The kidnapping, which was also reported by state media, comes with tensions soaring in the country after the jihadist Islamic State group (IS) purportedly beheaded two of the 30 Lebanese soldiers it captured during the clashes in August.

"Gunmen kidnapped a soldier today from his home on the outskirts of Arsal," the security source told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"He was on leave and visiting his family, who have a farm near Arsal," he added.

The official National News Agency, which also reported the abduction, identified the hostage as Kamal Mohammad Khalil al-Hujeiri.

The clashes and kidnappings in Arsal were followed last week by a series of tit-for-tat cases of hostage-taking in the eastern Bekaa valley.

At the end of the battle in August, the jihadists took with them some 30 Lebanese soldiers and policemen captured in the fighting, and two of them have since been beheaded.

Another two men, both civilians, were also kidnapped weeks after the fighting ended.

One of them was later killed, accused by the jihadists of "collaborating" with Hezbollah, the powerful Lebanese Shiite militia which has deployed thousands of troops alongside President Bashar al-Assad's troops in Syria's civil war.

Last month's fighting in Arsal was between the Lebanese army and jihadists from Islamic State and the Al-Qaeda affiliated Al-Nusra Front.

It left dead 20 Lebanese soldiers, 16 civilians and dozens of jihadists, who withdrew to the Qalamun mountains across the border after kidnapping the Lebanese troops and policemen.

Arsal is home to a majority Sunni population that generally backs the Syrian revolt against Assad. It is located in the Bekaa, home to a majority Shiite population that supports Hezbollah and the Assad regime.

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