Lebanese mediator killed in fighting near Syrian border

Lebanese mediator killed in fighting near Syrian border
2 min read
23 July, 2017
Lebanese mediator Ahmad al-Fliti, who was mediating between the powerful Hizballah group and militants near the border with Syria, was killed on Saturday near Jurud Arsal.
Funerals were held on Saturday for 11 Hizballah fighters killed in the clashes [AFP]

A Lebanese mediator was killed on Saturday in a second day of fighting between the powerful Hizballah group and militants near the border with Syria, the official news agency said.

"Ahmad al-Fliti, who was mediating between fighters and Hizballah... was wounded when his car was hit by shelling of unknown origin in Jurud Arsal," ANI said.

"He later succumbed to his wounds."

Lebanon's army said Fliti was killed in shelling by "the terrorist organisation of the al-Nusra Front", referring to the former Syrian branch of al-Qaeda.

Hizballah on Friday said its fighters had begun an operation against militants on both sides of the country's border with Syria.

On Saturday, Hizballah announced several advances in the mountainous border area of Jurud Arsal.

Funerals were held on Saturday for 11 Hizballah fighters killed in the clashes, nine in Beirut and two in Baalbek.

Lebanon's army has not officially announced its participation in the offensive, but said on Friday it had targeted "terrorists" in the area.

Thousands of Syrian refugees live in informal camps in Jurud Arsal after having fled the six-year war in their home country.

But security in the area has also long been a concern, with Lebanese forces battling jihadis in the area in 2014.

Hizballah on Friday also announced fighting on the other side of the border in Syria's Qalamoun, where the Lebanese Shia group has fought for years alongside President Bashar al-Assad's army against rebels and jihadis.

Syria's air force on Saturday carried out airstrikes near the border, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said.

More than a million refugees have flooded into Lebanon since the Syria conflict erupted with anti-government protests in March 2011.

Their presence has been largely tolerated despite testing the limited resources and ageing infrastructure of a country of just four million.