Syria's Conflict Spills Into Lebanon. Clashes Kill Dozens, ISIS Captures Lebanese Soldiers in Border Town Arsal

Clashes broke out between the Lebanese Armed Forces and Islamic militants in Arsal, a Lebanese town in a mountainous area near the Syrian border. During an incursion into Lebanon, the fighters, who include militants from the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) which now reigns over swathes of Syria and Iraq, captured 19 soldiers and said they would let them go in exchange for the release of other Islamic militants held captive in Lebanese prisons, according to news reports.

Many residents fled the area since the fighting began on August 2, but others were caught in the violence over five days of fighting.

At least 17 soldiers, 50 militants and over 40 civilians were killed according to the Daily Star.

After the retreat of the militants and as the Lebanese Army entered the town on August 8, 2014, journalist Kareem Shaheen tweeted updates from the area, highlighting the plight of residents, including a large number of Syrian refugees.

According to Shaheen, residents were not able to regain their homes due to security concerns

Nadim Houry, Human Rights Watch deputy director for Middle East and North Africa, noted that civilian residents of the area have been largely ignored in discussions on ongoing incidents.

Indeed, the army was an important focus of online conversations as the Lebanese demonstrated their support for troops across social media platforms in a show of national unity and rejection of sectarian divides: An initiative to support the Army, for instance, invited people to donate goods or volunteer according to their skills. Photographs of soldiers who died during the clashes circulated online, like this post by a telecom company on Facebook. A local news anchor even wore military fatigue to present the TV news bulletin.

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