Scores of wounded Syrian rebels flee into Lebanon after ambush

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 20, 2014 4:24 AM

TRIPOLI, Lebanon (Reuters) - Forty one wounded Syrian rebels crossed a river into Lebanon on Thursday after the Syrian army ambushed the fighters as they tried to flee a besieged area, two Lebanese medical sources in the area said.

Eight more rebels either arrived dead or succumbed to their wounds after managing to escape Syria into the northern Lebanese area of Wadi Khaled, said the sources, a hospital employee and a medic who requested anonymity.

Lebanon's border area has been steadily sucked into Syria's three-year-old conflict as President Bashar al-Assad's forces attack nearby rebel bases.

Lebanese frontier towns have been used by rebels to recuperate but have also been attacked by Syrian helicopters and rocket attacks.

On Thursday, Syrian army shells hit villages in Wadi Khaled as the rebels escaped, Lebanon's National News Agency reported.

The rebels were fleeing the area of al-Hosn in Homs province, which the Syrian army has surrounded, the medical sources said. Syrian state television said its army had killed 11 "terrorists" trying to escape al-Hosn.

Lebanese Shi'ite militant group Hezbollah has sent fighters into Syria to support Assad, while Syrian rebels and their Sunni Lebanese allies have set off bombs in Shi'ite areas and fired rockets at Shi'ite towns.

More than 140,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict, which has become increasingly sectarian as rival regional powers have backed either Assad, a member of the Shi'ite offshoot Alawite sect, or the rebels who oppose him.

(Reporting by Nazih Saddiq; Writing by Oliver Holmes; Editing by Gareth Jones)