(BEIRUT) — The Syrian government has expanded its search for rebel forces by targeting suspected hideouts in Lebanon.
According to the official Lebanese National News Agency, “warplanes affiliated with the Syrian Air Force” fired on targets inside the Wadi al-Khayl Valley area just across the border.
The news agency didn’t specify damages or casualties but this marks the first incursion by President Bashar al-Assad’s air force into Lebanon since he ordered a crackdown on pro-democracy advocates in March 2011.
Previously, some mortar rounds have landed in Lebanese territory but never before have war jets conducted direct strikes inside Syria’s neighbor, which thus far has remained neutral about the conflict now entering its third year.
Damascus possibly telegraphed what was coming last week when it announced that Syrian forces might launch assault on “terrorist gangs” in Lebanon. The Wadi al-Khayl Valley area has been used as a safe haven by rebels, who have the support of locals opposing al-Assad’s regime.
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Juliet Perry, Tim Hume and Livia Borghese, CNN
Sheena McKenzie, CNN
Chandrika Narayan and Steve Almasy, CNN