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qalamoun ISIS fightersIslamic State militants are attempting to infiltrate Lebanon from Syria, Beirut’s security chief has warned. Forces have been put on high alert to prevent the civil war in Syria spilling across the border.

Incursions are taking place in Qalamoun Mountains, which mark Lebanon’s eastern border with Syria, where Islamic State (also known as ISIS, or ISIL) militants are trying to take over Lebanese villages to gain better fighting positions, Major General Abbas Ibrahim, head of Lebanon’s Directorate of General Security (DGS), told Reuters.

“Islamic State does not want to dominate Qalamoun… but they want to use it to secure their backs in the region through controlling [Lebanese] villages in contact with the Qalamoun area,” Ibrahim said, adding that the number of militants in the Qalamoun region is increasing.

In the recent period about 700 new fighters pledged allegiance, and so they are now more than 1,000 fighters,” the general said.

“The [Lebanese] military and security forces are on full alert,” Ibrahim told Reuters. In June 2014, an assassination attempt was made on Ibrahim using a suicide bomber.

Since February 2011, when the fighting in Syria began, incidents on the Lebanon-Syria border have increased. In 2014 militants organized several high-scale attacks on Lebanese territory, such as the assault on the border city of Arsal, when Lebanese soldiers were held captive, and clashes of IS-associated militants with Lebanese law enforcement agencies in Tripoli, the country’s second-largest city, located 30 kilometers south of the Syrian border.

Ibrahim said that Lebanese security agencies have carried out a number of successful, previously unreported, operations against Islamist networks in the country.

Some Lebanese citizens living close to the Syrian border have expressed a willingness to arming themselves in order to fight against ISIS.

In a related development 4 members of Hezbollah and 5 Syrian army troops were killed in fierce clashes with Al Qaeda-linked fighters in the Qalamoun mountainous area on the Syria-Lebanon border on Saturday security sources said.

According to the sources the Al Qaeda-linked Al Nusra front also sustained losses but the number of casualties was still unclear.

Agencies/RT

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