Mass exodus from Iraqi towns and cities as ISIS advance prompts panic

The Khazir refugee camp, near Erbil, to which many Iraqis have fled.

The Khazir refugee camp, near Erbil, to which many Iraqis have fled

Many members of minorities are even fleeing areas where there seems to be no imminent danger of an ISIS attack as they are so traumatized by their recent displacement.

Amnesty International’s Donatella Rovera

Panic has taken hold in north-western Iraq as tens of thousands of people flee areas where Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants are continuing their advance, Amnesty International said.

“The situation for Iraqis in the north-west of the country, especially those from the Yezidi and Christian minority communities, is becoming increasingly dire as both residents and many of those already displaced are now fleeing their homes and places of shelter,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser, who is currently in northern Iraq.

Thousands of residents of the Christian city of Qaraqosh fled after ISIS arrived overnight, while others told Amnesty International that they were trapped in the town and unable to leave.

Donatella Rovera said: “I met a man yesterday in al-Qosh, a Christian town, who for weeks has been working hard to provide shelter and assistance to displaced people – Christians, Yezidis and other minorities who had fled their homes in the recent days and weeks amid ISIS assaults.

“Today he and his family have themselves become displaced. He broke down in tears as he told me that last night he and his family fled with only the clothes on their backs – with not even time to take their documents. ISIS is now in the town.”

In Bashiqa, a majority Yezidi town north of Mosul, residents’ long-standing fears of an ISIS attack were realized overnight. The population is now displaced.

As ISIS advanced further east and north of Mosul overnight, thousands fled towards the Iraqi Kurdistan cities of Dohuk and Erbil.

“Many members of minorities are even fleeing areas where there seems to be no imminent danger of an ISIS attack as they are so traumatized by their recent displacement. They are gripped by panic and fear,” Donatella Rovera said.

For example, some Yezidis from the Sinjar area, who were forced from their homes at the weekend after ISIS took over the area and who found shelter near Dohuk, are fleeing again. They are now heading for the Turkish border.

(Source / 07.08.2014)

Not killing Gazans ‘moral mistake’: Netanyahu


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has blatantly defended Tel Aviv’s bloody massacre of Gazans as ‘proportionate,’ while attempting to shift the blame for heavy civilian toll onto Palestinian resistance fighters.

During a Wednesday news conference, the Israeli premier described the Tel Aviv regime’s month-long military aggression against the inhabitants of Gaza as “proportionate” and “justified.”

“I think it was justified, I think it was proportionate. That doesn’t in any way take away from the deep regret of loss we have for a single civilian,” Netanyahu said at a press conference in Jerusalem for foreign news media.

The criminal Israeli leader also pretended to feel sorry about the death of civilians in the besieged Palestinian territory, saying the heavy death toll is of “Hamas’ own making.”

He added that the attacks on UN schools were not only appropriate, but that it would have “been a moral mistake” to not attack those schools, because it would’ve given Hamas de facto permission to launch attacks from those schools.


“That’s obviously a mistake. It’s a moral mistake. It’s an operational mistake. Because … it would hand an enormous victory to terrorists everywhere.’”

Netanyahu claimed that Hamas uses people as “human shields,” adding that the Palestinian resistance group uses schools and hospitals to hide fighters and weapons.

The hawkish Israeli premier made the claims in a desperate attempt to exonerate Tel Aviv amid harsh international criticism of the regime for its brutal carnage in the impoverished Gaza Strip.

On Thursday, Amnesty International said Israel has conducted “deliberate attacks” on hospitals and health workers in Gaza, calling for an immediate investigation into Tel Aviv’s aggression.

Reports coming out of Gaza also indicate that the Israeli military has used banned weapons, including white phosphorous bombs, in its attacks on the residents of the densely-populated area.

About 1,900 Palestinians, including more than 400 children, have been killed and over 9,500 others wounded since the Israeli military first launched its brutal offensive against the Gaza Strip on July 8.

A three-day humanitarian ceasefire between Hamas and Israel took effect at 8:00 a.m. local time (0500 GMT) on Tuesday.

(Source / 07.08.2014)

Moroccan Red Crescent provides financial help to Palestinian counterpart

Moroccan Red Crescent provides financial help to Palestinian counterpart

Rabat – The Moroccan Red Crescent (CRM) granted financial help to its Palestinian counterpart to remedy the problem of medicine scarcity in Gaza hospitals because of the Israeli assault, said on Tuesday a statement by the CRM.

The medicine will partially fill the gap in Gaza health centers due to the inflow of thousands of injured Palestinians, it said, adding that a share of this aid will be used to purchase the foodstuffs needed for the city’s inhabitants.

The CRM said that Princess Lalla Malika, chairwoman of CRM, takes special interest in this kind of initiatives, which are in line with the CRM’s mission and principles of supporting victims of disasters and conflicts, and sees to it personally to closely follow the developments of the humanitarian situation.

This aid to the Palestinian brothers is meant to ease the sufferings and ensure social and humanitarian services, it added.

(Source / 07.08.2014)

Palestinians returning home find Israeli troops left faeces and venomous graffiti

Ahmed Owedat also found soldiers had thrown his TVs, fridge, and computers from upstairs windows and slashed furniture
Graffiti in Palestinian's home

Some of the graffiti Ahmed Owedat found on returning to his home in the town of Burij.

When Ahmed Owedat returned to his home 18 days after Israeli soldiers took it over in the middle of the night, he was greeted with an overpowering stench.

He picked through the wreckage of his possessions thrown from upstairs windows to find that the departing troops had left a number of messages. One came from piles of faeces on his tiled floors and in wastepaper baskets, and a plastic bottle filled with urine.

If that was not clear enough, the words “Fuck Hamas” had been carved into a concrete wall in the staircase. “Burn Gaza down” and “Good Arab = dead Arab” were engraved on a coffee table. The star of David was drawn in blue in a bedroom.

“I have scrubbed the floors three times today and three times yesterday,” said Owedat, 52, as he surveyed the damage, which included four televisions, a fridge, a clock and several computers tossed out of windows, shredded curtains and slashed soft furnishings.

A handful of plastic chairs had their seats ripped open, through which the occupying soldiers defecated, he said. Gaping holes had been blown in four ground-floor external walls, and there was damage from shelling to the top floor. There, in the living room, diagrams had been drawn on the walls, showing buildings and palm trees in the village, with figures that Owedat thought represented their distance from the border.

“I have no money to fix this,” he said, claiming that his life savings of $10,000 (£6,000) were missing from his apartment. But at least it could be repaired, he acknowledged, gesturing through the broken glass at a wasteland stretching towards the Israel-Gaza border 3km away. “Every house between here and there has been destroyed.”

His family of 13 fled their home after seeing troops and tanks advancing at 1am on 20 July, two days into the Israeli ground invasion. Several times, during the short-lived ceasefires in the following two weeks, they attempted to return only to find Israeli troops in their home instructing them to keep away.

The Israel Defence Forces did not respond to a request for comment.

Half an hour’s drive north, a similar picture was found at Beit Hanoun girls’ school, taken over by the IDF following the ground operation. Broken glass and rubble littered the floors and stairs. Tables and desks were covered in the abandoned detritus of an occupying army: hardened bread rolls, empty tins of hummus, desiccated olives, cans of energy drinks, bullet casings. Flies buzzed around the rotting food.

Here too, said the school’s caretaker, Fayez, who didn’t want to give his full name, soldiers had defecated in bins and cardboard boxes, and urinated in water bottles. “You will be fucked here” and “Don’t forget it’s time for you to die” were chalked in English on blackboards.

Here, Hamas had struck back. After the troops pulled out, counter-graffiti was sprayed on the walls, referring to Hamas’s militant wing, Qassam brigades. “Qassam’s army will crush you – dogs” and “Israel will be defeated”.

The 1,250 pupils at the school will, it is hoped, never see either set of venomous messages. Workers began the marathon cleanup operation this week but, said Fayez, “it will take at least a month to fix”. The academic year is due to begin in a little over two weeks.

(Source / 07.08.2014)

Press Release: One Rohingya killed and two injured ahead of John Kerry’s visit to Burma

One Rohingya killed and two injured ahead of John Kerry’s visit to Burma
Date: August 7, 2014
Just days before US Secretary of State John Kerry is due to visit Burma, more than 100 security forces came to the Rohingya IDPs camp in Thandawlee village in Sittwe, capital of Arakan State, and killed one Rohingya and seriously injured two others. More than 15 Rohingyas were arrested by security forces. At the same time, Rohingyas in Buthidaung and Maungdaw, in northern Arakan, have been arrested, threatened and harassed while the government attempts to collect population data.
“If the US government wants to see clear progress on the Rohingya issue in Burma, John Kerry should be setting timelines and benchmarks for progress, including to restore Rohingya citizenship and for the lifting of restrictions on aid, movement, marriage and education in Arakan,” said BROUK’s President Tun Khin.
Since June 2012, violence against the Rohingya has continued and the situation continues to deteriorate. In March, hundreds of aid workers were evacuated after facing attacks. More than 150 Rohingyas and 20 pregnant women died in the two weeks after Doctors Without Borders (MSF) were expelled from Arakan in March. Many children have died because of malnutrition. Although MSF have now been allowed back into Arakan, there are still serious restrictions on aid and movement for the thousands of Rohingya IDPs.
“The United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in Burma has stated that the widespread and systematic human rights violations in Arakan State ‘may constitute crimes against humanity’. The US government should be supporting an international investigation into human rights abuses in Arakan State” said Tun Khin, President of BROUK.
BROUK urges US Secretary of State John Kerry;
  • To support an independent international investigation into human rights abuses in Arakan.
  • To put pressure on President Thein Sein (i) to stop immediately the violence and crimes against the Rohingya and to protect the lives of Rohingya (ii)to allow humanitarian NGOs full and free access to the Rohingya in all parts of Arakan; (iii) to repeal or amend the 1982 Citizenship Law in order that it conforms with international standards; (iv) to stop the segregation of communities in Arakan and replace it with a proactive policy of ‘peaceful co-existence’.

(Source / 07.08.2014)

Zionist forces kidnap 11 West Bank Palestinians

Zionist regime forces commonly use brutal force to harass and arrest Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza
Zionist regime forces commonly use brutal force to harass and arrest Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza
Zionist regime forces have forced their way into several homes in the occupied West Bank taking captive at least 11 Palestinian residents and injuring numerous others.

Local media outlets and security sources reported Thursday that Israeli forces stormed a house in the city of al-Khalil (Hebron), arresting Ibrahim Jaber, who had been released in a 2011 prison swap.

Four others, including another former prisoner, were arrested in the town of Dura after Israeli forces stormed their houses, causing property damage. The men were reportedly assaulted before being taken away.

In the northern West Bank city of Jenin, three Palestinians were also kidnapped after the villages of Silat al-Harithiya, Kafr Dan, and Faqqua were raided.

At Za’tara checkpoint, located to the south of the city of Nablus, Israeli soldiers abducted 17-year-old Beirut Ali Mohammad. Reports indicate she was released hours later.

Two others were also abducted in the district of Bethlehem and the village of Baqa Ash-Sharqiya.

Tensions have been running high in the occupied West Bank since Israel launched a deadly military operation against Gaza on July 8.

The violent arrests come amid a 72-hour humanitarian truce between Israel and the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas.

The Israeli regime’s 29 days of military attacks against the Gaza Strip claimed the lives of nearly 1,900 Palestinians, including more than 400 children, and wounded over 9,500 others

(Source / 07.08.2014)

British lawyers urge international criminal court to investigate crimes in Gaza

(Meanwhile, I suspect the PA is waiting for a clearance from the US/Israel to apply for membership of the ICC! In disgust, Sami)

British lawyers urge international criminal court to investigate crimes in Gaza

Senior British lawyers have written to the international criminal court (ICC) in The Hague, urging it to investigate “crimes” committed in Gaza, including the destruction of homes, hospitals and schools.
The letter was sent by Kirsty Brimelow QC, the chair of the Bar Council’s human rights committee, and was signed by a host of senior British barristers and law professors.
Addressed to the ICC prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, it calls on the court to launch a preliminary inquiry into abuses committed during the conflict.
“The initiation of an investigation would send a clear and unequivocal message to those involved in the commission of these crimes that the accountability and justice called for by the United Nations on the part of victims are not hollow watchwords,” the letter states.
“It would bring about an end to the impunity which has prevailed in the region to date, fuelling ever increasingly brutal cycles of violence. The international community cannot continue to act simply as witness to such bloodshed and extreme civilian suffering.”
The lawyers say that it is within the ICC’s jurisdiction to act because the government of Palestine made a declaration in 2009 accepting the court’s role and the UN has since acknowledged Palestine as a non-member observer state.
The request is “in response to the extreme gravity of the situation in the Gaza Strip, including spiralling civilian deaths and large scale destruction of homes, hospitals and schools”, the letter says.
It refers both to attacks by Israeli forces and the firing of rockets into Israel by Palestinian militants.
“United Nations reports record that an estimated 23,304 air-to-surface missiles, tank shells and naval shells have been fired by Israel at the Gaza Strip since Israel launched its latest military assault on the territory on 7 July 2014,” the letter says. “During the same period, 3,008 rockets have been fired by Palestinian armed groups at Israel, according to Israeli military sources, in addition to over 886 mortars, reported by the United Nations.
“The fatalities include entire families killed in their homes, patients killed in their hospital beds, doctors, paramedics, United Nations humanitarian workers and members of the press … Reports produced by non-governmental organisations following preliminary investigations strongly suggest that crimes within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court have been and are being committed.”
Among the many other signatories are Baroness Helena Kennedy QC; Sir Geoffrey Bindman QC; Roy Amlot QC, the former chair of the Bar Council of England and Wales; Professor Bill Bowring of Birkbeck College; Edward Fitzgerald QC and Philippa Kaufman QC.

(Source / 07.08.2014)

Egypt officials say Israel demands Gaza demilitarization

Palestinians look at the wreckage from a damaged window following an Israeli strike, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip
on August 2, 2014
CAIRO (Ma’an) — Officials close to ceasefire talks in Egypt said Thursday that Israel is demanding that the Gaza Strip be demilitarized as uncertainty remains over whether a 72-hour truce will be extended.

The officials said that the Israeli delegation has expressed reservations about building a seaport and airport, but showed greater flexibility in discussing lifting the blockade, freeing Palestinian detainees, and extending the designated fishing zone.

Egyptian mediators have tried to dissuade Israel from insisting on demilitarization and have asked for an extension to the 72-hour ceasefire, which ends at 8 a.m. on Friday.

The Palestinian delegation has demanded an end to the siege of Gaza, the construction of a seaport and airport, the release of detainees who were rearrested, and the creation of a safe passage between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

An Israeli official told AFP on condition of anonymity late Wednesday that it is willing to extend the truce.

But Hamas deputy leader Mussa Abu Marzouq, part of the Palestinian delegation holding talks in Cairo, denied overnight there was yet any agreement.

“There is no agreement to extend the ceasefire,” he wrote on Twitter.

“Any news about the extension of the truce is unfounded,” added Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri.

(Source / 07.08.2014)

Gaza war: Its about keeping the Palestinians under control

Israel has been waging a single war since the mid-70s. Its goal is to avoid sharing power or assets with the other people living on this land. The Gaza war wasn’t about creating a new order, but about maintaining the old one. 

Palestinians recover belongings from the Khuza'a neighborhood following bombardment by Israeli forces, Gaza Strip, August 3, 2014. (Anne Paq/

Palestinians recover belongings from the Khuza’a neighborhood following bombardment by Israeli forces, Gaza Strip, August 3, 2014

At the time of this writing, Operation Protective Edge has come to an end and the ceasefire between Hamas and Israel is delicately holding. Though indirect talks are taking place in Cairo, reports from the negotiations indicate an Israeli refusal to lift the siege on Gaza. Hamas has vouched to fight on if the ceasefire doesn’t hold, but the humanitarian crisis in the Strip is likely to make that difficult.

As things now stand, it’s clear that declarations by Israeli ministers and generals on “a new reality” in the south disguise a different, opposite goal for this war: Protective Edge was carried out in order to restore things to way they were before June 2014. In other words, to maintain the status quo.

This has been the goal of Israeli policy for many years now. Since the end of the 1973 war, Israel has been waging a single war against a single adversary – the Palestinians. The first Lebanon War, the Intifadas, Cast Lead, Protective Edge and most of the military operations in between were all part of “a military solution” to the Palestinian problem. Even the notable exception – the 2006 war in Lebanon – was leftover from the the 1982 invasion, which was conducted against the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Despite all the threats that came and went over the years – the Syrians, Iran’s nuclear program, the axis of evil, international jihad – at the end of the day, it all comes down to the Palestinian issue. The reason why all those threats are constantly debated and inflated in Israel is to hide this fact.

This is the heart of the matter: There are two population groups, Jews and Palestinians, living between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan Valley. They are nearly equal in size and almost totally mixed: there are Jews and Arabs along the coast line, Jews and Arabs in the north, Jews and Arabs in the south, and Jews and Arabs in the West Bank.

Israeli policemen arrest protesters as Palestinians living in Israel and left wing activists protest against the Israeli attack on Gaza in down town Haifa, July 18, 2014. Israeli police arrested 28 activists, as protesters took the streets and blocked roads calling to put an end to the attack. (Fiaz abu-Ramele/

Israeli policemen arrest protesters as Palestinians living in Israel and left wing activists protest against the Israeli attack on Gaza in downtown Haifa, July 18, 2014. Israeli police arrested 28 activists, as protesters took to the streets and blocked roads, calling for an end to the attack

Jews living everywhere in this territory have full rights, while the Palestinians are divided into all sorts of sub-groups with differing sets of rights that are never equal to those of the Jews. Jews are represented and protected everywhere by a single unified, sovereign government, while most Palestinians are administered by different kinds of weak, partial local administrations. Jews hold almost all the assets – including most of the lands – while Palestinians have very few assets, and some of them are inaccessible or off-limits, like the natural gas fields inside Gaza’s territorial waters.

This is a unique order. I don’t know of any other country in the world that has held such a large part of the native population as non-citizens for such a long period of time. It is an inherently unjust order, and it will continue to create instability and to cast serious doubts over the legitimacy of the entire system. This will happen regardless of all the advocacy efforts on the part of the government, or the number of Zionist laws the Knesset passes. Reality has a force of its own.

In this context, keeping the Palestinians under control was, and still remains, the Israeli challenge; not killing. The violence is a byproduct, which Israelis would happily do without. The goal is to keep the existing order of things. Great resources are directed to this end: a massive defense budget; technological creativity; philosophy professors that come up with new ethics for this national project; the Supreme Court defines the legal boundaries for it – who can be killed and who can’t, what land can be taken and what not; all while a propaganda machine tries to market the outcome to the world and to our own citizens.

When the Palestinians accept the order of things instead of rebelling, Israelis can turn to other issues – talk about social justice, rising real estate prices, the culture war between the religious and secular, and between Sephardi and Ashkenazi Jews. But then something happens, and everyone goes back to dealing with the national project: How to keep the Palestinians under control.

The alternative involves sharing power, assets and land with the other people living on this land. This could be achieved by dividing the territory in two (the two-state solution) or within one unified territory. There are also hybrids of the two models. But as long as the Israeli goal is to keep as many assets as possible in the hands of the Jewish community, or to keep the Palestinians under its control – for example, through controlling the borders or the airspace of the future Palestinian state, or allowing the IDF to violate its sovereignty – there will be no compromise, and Israel will continue to carry out “peacekeeping missions,” continue “to restore order,” continue to “renew deterrence,” “mow the grass” and all those other euphemisms for keeping Palestinians under control.

As a side note, it should be clear that the Israeli tendency to try and determine who is a “legitimate” Palestinian leader and who should be dealt with by force – whether it’s Hamas’ Khaled Mashal or MK Hanin Zoabi – is also a part of this game. Recognizing only those who accept our terms in advance is simply another form of control.

Binyamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman thank their supporters at the Likud-Yisrael Beitenu headquarters, January 23 2013 (photo: Yotam Ronen / Activestills)

Binyamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman thank their supporters at the Likud-Yisrael Beitenu headquarters, January 23 2013

The price of a fair compromise, one that really has a chance of working, is huge. Israel retains all the assets and, therefore, is the one that needs to pay and take risks. The Palestinians have very little “to give” Israel in return, save for legitimacy and some hope that things will pay off in the future. Even the much debated security arrangements are worthless. A Palestinian leadership can promise peace today, but who knows what will happen and who will be in power in five or 10 years. In the short run, the compromise is likely to lead to less security as increased political instability on the Israeli side.

It is therefore clear why at this moment in time, when Israel is so powerful and rich, a compromise doesn’t look too attractive for most of the Jewish public. Israel is caught in a tragic decision-making paradox: As long as things are going well, the motivation for compromise remains extremely low. For compromise to become a preferred option, things need to go horribly bad. Until they do, sending soldiers to restore order, to kill and be killed, will seem like the easy way out of any given crisis. And when the benefit-cost ratio finally changes, the price of the compromise is likely to rise, too.

Netanyahu chose the cheapest solution in Gaza: A unilateral retreat without an agreement, which is way less risky than taking the entire Strip, and way less daring than reaching an agreement that actually changes the reality on the ground for the better. Netanyahu usually resorts to cheap solutions. His political opponents – Tzipi Livni, Yair Lapid, Yitzhak Herzog, Avigdor Lieberman, Naftali Bennett, Gideon Sa’ar – are not that different. They might have their own ideas for solving the problem at hand – how to keep the Palestinians under control – but none of them want to change the question.

(Source / 07.08.2014)

Truce in Lebanon’s Arsal after army battles IS, Nusra Front

LABWEH, Lebanon (AFP) — Hundreds of Syrian refugees headed home from Lebanon’s border town of Arsal and dozens of wounded were evacuated Thursday during a truce in fighting between Wahhabi fighters and Lebanese soldiers.

The truce, announced Wednesday night by Sunni clerics serving as mediators, has raised hopes of an end to the worst violence in the area since the conflict in neighboring Syria erupted in March 2011.

At least 17 soldiers have been killed battling the fighters, who are reportedly from several different extremist groups fighting in Syria.

Another 22 soldiers have been captured, although three were freed Wednesday.

The exodus of refugees, who had reportedly sought to leave Arsal even before the clashes, was being facilitated by Lebanese authorities and a Syrian nun close to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Sister Agnes told AFP that 1,700 men, women and children, mostly from the Qalamun area just across the border from Arsal, were en route to the Masnaa border crossing.

The nun, whose convent is in the Qalamun region, said the return of the refugees had been complicated by the fact that some of them had failed to do their Syrian military service.

But she said the Syrian government had put “no obstacles” in the way of their return and Lebanon was also facilitating the return, although some of the refugees had entered the country illegally.

Another 3,000 refugees among the 47,000 sheltering in Arsal have also asked to leave to Syria, she said.

44 wounded evacuated

The departure of the refugees came as the truce appeared to be holding.

The truce was announced by the mediators, who said the gunmen in control of the town had agreed to withdraw and that soldiers and policemen being held hostage would be released.

“The remaining armed men have undertaken to leave Arsal completely within 24 hours,” cleric Samih Ezzedine said on Wednesday night.

“All the prisoners are alive and despite difficult negotiations we have clear and positive promises they will be released. I hope that will happen on Thursday.”

On Thursday, a military source said troops had yet to enter the town of Arsal but were checking whether gunmen were withdrawing as pledged.

During their advance, he added, soldiers had freed seven members of the police being held by the fighters.

The seven were different from a group of some 20 policemen still being held who were captured when militants stormed a police post in Arsal on Saturday as the clashes erupted.

Medical services took advantage of the quiet to send in ambulances to evacuate at least 44 wounded people, both Lebanese and Syrians, the Red Cross said.

At least three civilians have been confirmed killed in the fighting, but the toll is believed to be much higher.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said Thursday it had reports from field hospitals of at least 47 people killed and 268 wounded.

Calls for aid

The fighting has prompted widespread concern in Lebanon, with the army and politicians urging the international community to offer assistance.

Army chief General Jean Kahwaji has urged France to speed up delivery of weapons being bought for the military by Saudi Arabia under a $3-billion deal announced last year.

On Tuesday night, Lebanon’s former prime minister Saad Hariri announced that Riyadh was pledging another $1 billion that would be available immediately for the army and security forces.

The fighting began after soldiers detained a Syrian man accused of belonging to Al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate Al-Nusra Front.

Lebanon has sought to insulate itself from the raging war next door, but the conflict has regularly spilled over.

It currently hosts more than one million Syrian refugees, and the battle between Sunni-led rebels and Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has stoked existing political and sectarian tensions.

Many of Lebanon’s Sunnis, including the residents of Arsal, sympathize with the Syrian uprising.

But Lebanese Shiites tend to back Assad’s regime, and the powerful Shiite movement Hezbollah has sent its fighters across the border to bolster the embattled leader’s forces.

As the hundreds of Syrian refugees leaving Arsal passed through the neighboring Shiite town of Labweh on Thursday afternoon, some residents jeered and swore at them.

The clashes in Arsal have also raised tensions in Tripoli, where a homemade explosive device detonated near a military post on Wednesday night, killing one person and injuring six others.

(Source / 07.08.2014)