BEIRUT (Reuters) - The Lebanese army has arrested six Palestinians trying to leave to Syria to fight alongside insurgents aiming to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a Lebanese security source said on Saturday.
The conflict in Syria has increased sectarian tensions between Sunni and Shi‘ite Muslims and deepened political divisions in Lebanon. Lebanese Shi‘ite Hezbollah group has sent fighters to support Assad, while Lebanese and Palestinian Sunni fighters have joined the mainly Sunni rebels.
The security source said the men were caught in a mountainous area near the border town of Hermel. He did not give further details but added that the army has also shut down five illegal crossings to Syria in the area which were used to smuggle people and goods.
Authorities launched a crackdown in south and north Lebanon after two suicide bomb attacks claimed by Islamic State killed 44 people in a Beirut suburb this month, the latest spillover from the Syrian civil war across the border.
They said they dismantled a network planning further attacks in Lebanon.
On Saturday, the army arrested two Lebanese men on suspicion of belonging to a “terrorist group”.
Lebanon, which hosts around 1 million Syrian refugees, hosts tens of thousands of Palestinians living in camps built to absorb refugees after Israel’s creation more than 60 years ago.
Reporting by Mariam Karouny; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky