By Oliviero Reusser
Beirut - In the early hours of friday, June 30th, the Lebanese army carried out a raid in several refugee camps located in the town of Arsal, a predominantly Sunni Muslim town in eastern Lebanon, directly west of the border with Syria. Several thousands refugees from the war-torn neighboring country made their way to the Lebanese locality and settled in various camps near and around the town.
According to a statement released by the Lebanese army, the raid targeted the el-Nour and the el-Qaariya refugee camps in and near the town of Arsal. A total of five suicide bombers blew themselves up, injuring three soldiers, while in another instance, a hand grenade was thrown at a army unit, during which another four soldiers were injured. A small girl of two and a half years was also killed. Two of the suicide bombers were identified as "Abo Aisha" and "Abo Ibadah", members of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the now rebranded former official al-Qaeda affilate in Syria. Atleast four IEDs (Improvised Explosive Device) and bomb-making materials like nitrate were found and safely detonated.
About 150 refugees and suspects were initially detained and arrested, including several ISIS and HTS members or affiliates. The exact situation is currently unknown; according to the army, search operations are still ongoing.
It is worth mentioning that HTS, ISIS and other smaller opposition factions control small areas in the mountains located east of Arsal town and regularly clash with each other and the Lebanese army aswell as Hezbollah.