The Lebanese military suffered a major defeat on the outskirts of the village of Abra, east of Sidon, today when they attempted to stop a Salafist cleric at an army checkpoint.
The cleric’s convoy included heavily armed fighters, who quickly dispatched the checkpoint as well as the first reinforcements, forcing the army to withdraw from the area.
Three soldiers were killed at the checkpoint itself, and seven of the reinforcements were also slain, meaning ten killed overall, a big loss for the Lebanese military, which rarely engages in combat. They also reported 38 others wounded, and speculated that “at least two” of the Sunni militants were also slain.
Since the fighting and subsequent pullback, the Lebanese Army has vowed to respond “with an iron fist,” and will “crack down on strife” nationwide. Fighting is reportedly continuing in the area overnight, with supporters of the cleric setting up barricades in several areas and firing rocket-propelled grenades and military transport vehicles trying to bring additional troops back to the fight.
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