The top United Nations relief official in Lebanon today strongly condemned attacks on the Lebanese Armed Forces and the ongoing fighting in and around the city of Arsal, in the northeastern part of the country near its border with Syria.
“Those attacks led to the deaths, injury and abduction of soldiers and members of the security forces, and caused civilian fatalities and injuries,” Ross Mountain, the Acting UN Special Coordinator in Lebanon, said through a UN spokesperson in New York.
Mr. Mountain added that given the UN’s commitment to the stability and security of Lebanon, it strongly supports the country’s Armed Forces and its security forces.
Sixteen Lebanese soldiers have reportedly been killed in clashes that began Saturday between national forces and the militants, according to media reports. At least six civilians died in the fighting.
The local government estimates that some 3,000 families from Arsal have so far been displaced.
The city is believed to also house 100,000 Syrian refugees. About 12,000 new Syrian refugees are entering Lebanon each week and the number is expected to reach 1.5 million by the end of the year, accounting for one-third of the country’s population, according to UN figures.
Mr. Mountain, who is also the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in the country, has flagged concerns about potential Syrian-Lebanese hostilities as a result of competition for dwindling resources. He also said that he is worried about the possibility of Lebanese inter-sectarian problems.