Since then there have been further incursions reported elsewhere along the border.
On Tuesday, Syrian troops shot and killed a dual Lebanese-Syrian national and captured another man on the border as part of a security clampdown on towns and villages south of the flashpoint city of Homs, which lies just 20 miles north of the Lebanese frontier. On Wednesday, gun battles between Syrian security forces and army defectors erupted in the border area.
There were mixed reports on the number of casualties (one report said two officers and six soldiers, all deserters, were killed) and the precise location of the incident. Much of Lebanon’s eastern border with Syria is unmarked and, during calmer times, easily accessed in places by residents of both countries.
On Monday, Gen. Ashraf Rifi, Lebanon’s top police chief who is close to the anti-Syrian March 14 coalition, released details of an investigation into the abduction of three Syrian brothers in February, allegedly by the Syrian embassy in Beirut. The three brothers, who had been questioned by police for handing out anti-Assad flyers, allegedly were kidnapped in a Beirut suburb and driven in Syrian embassy vehicles to the border where they were handed over to Damascus-backed Palestinian militants.
A political split
The Lebanese government, dominated by allies of Damascus, has played down the reported incursions and the abductions of the Syrian brothers. But the opposition has seized upon the reports to accuse the government of serving Syrian interests.
“The expansion of the Syrian regime in Lebanon includes more than incursions into Lebanese territories,” said the March 14 coalition in a statement. “The Syrian regime is not only hinting at the possibility of establishing permanent [military] posts in Lebanon… but also playing a major role… in oppressing solidarity with the Syrian people through the abduction of activists.”