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106 handed down death penalty in Lebanon over Arsal clashes

A Lebanese military judge has sentenced 106 men to death over the 2014 clashes between the army and terrorists in the country’s northeast near the border with conflict-ridden Syria.

A judicial source said Judge Najat Abou Chakra convicted 73 Syrians, 32 Lebanese and one Palestinian of belonging to terrorist groups and attacking the town of Arsal.

They were also indicted for “carrying out terrorist acts, killing and attempting to kill a number of soldiers from the Lebanese Army, Internal Security Forces and civilians, kidnapping several servicemen, burning and looting military posts and vehicles, causing insecurity and sowing sectarian strife.”

According to the judge, the militants planned killing all those aged over 15 who sought to resist them.

Among those convicted, 77 are in custody but the remaining 29 are at large.

The suspects include Jamal Hussain Zainieh, also known as Abu Malek al-Talli, who is the al-Nusra Front terrorist group’s leader in Syria’s Qalamoun region.

Lebanon is suffering from the spillover of militancy in neighboring Syria, where foreign-backed extremists have been fighting government forces since 2011.

Daesh and al-Nusra Front, which is the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, have been active on the outskirts of Arsal.

The militants briefly overran Arsal in August 2014, taking about 30 Lebanese army and police forces hostage, some of whom were executed.

After lengthy negotiations, 16 of the captives were released last December as part of a prisoner swap deal.

Assisting Syrian army forces, fighters with the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement have thwarted several terrorist attacks.

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