Rockets strike Lebanese village near the border with Syria, killing one civilian

Air raids launched against positions held by rebels in the Minnigh military airbase in Aleppo province

Syrian refugees wait for treatment at a Doctors of the World medical centre at the Al Zaatri refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria. Photograph: Reuters.

Syrian refugees wait for treatment at a Doctors of the World medical centre at the Al Zaatri refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria. Photograph: Reuters.

 



Rockets yesterday struck the Lebanese hill village of Hermel, a Hizbullah bastion near the border with Syria, killing one civilian and damaging several houses. Nine missiles were said to have been fired from inside Lebanon, allegedly by supporters of the rebel Free Syrian Army, two from Syria itself.

Townspeople were particularly angry to be targeted as they had allowed wounded insurgents to be transported through Hermel to hospitals in Lebanon following the fall to Syrian troops and Hizbullah fighters last Friday of the Syrian border town of Qusayr.


Strained hospitals
Those now receiving treatment in Lebanese hospitals and a fresh influx of refugees from Qusayr are straining the country’s health system, already burdened by hundreds of thousands of Syrians and Palestinians fleeing the conflict in Syria.

Health minister Ali Hassan al-Khalil said, “The issue is not just covering expenses; it surpasses this and extends to shortages of beds in hospitals, especially in intensive care units.”

He argued that Lebanese citizens are being “deprived of the right to hospitalisation”.

In an incident which may be related to the missile attacks, Ali Ahmad al-Hujairi, a resident of the pro-rebel Sunni Arsal village, was killed when his lorry came under fire on the road to Hermel.

The attacks in Lebanon took place as Syrian troops, said to be bolstered by Hizbullah fighters, reportedly engaged rebels in villages north of the contested city of Aleppo. Air raids were also launched against positions held by rebels in the Minnigh military airbase in Aleppo province.

In central Damascus, 14 people were killed and more than 30 injured seriously in twin suicide bombings at a police station in Marjah Square, a site of repeated bombings. Although no claim of responsibility was made, the attack bore the hallmark of the Jabhat al-Nusra, a fundamentalist group affiliated with al-Qaeda.

Austria has withdrawn 60-80 troops from its 377-strong contingent in the UN observer force deployed along the ceasefire line between Syria and the Israeli-occupied Golan. All Austrian peacekeepers are expected to leave by June 24th.


Austrian handover
Foreign minister Michael Spindelegger said Vienna would negotiate the handover to the successor contingent “if there is one”, but intends to keep to its pullout timetable.

Austrians have taken part in the Disengagement Observer Force since it was established in 1974. Moscow has offered to replace the Austrians but is barred by an agreement with Syria and Israel to exclude members of the Security Council.

In eastern spill-over from the Syrian conflict, at least six soldiers and policemen died in northern Iraq, raising the toll from two days of violence to 79.