BEIRUT: Lebanese soldiers killed two gunmen and arrested at least 27 suspected militants, including a commander from the Islamic State group, in a raid in the town of Arsal near the border with Syria, a security source on Wednesday.
The source said that among those detained was Abu Bakr al-Raqqawi, a local commander of the Islamic State group, and three high profile insurgents.
He said the army carried out the raid after receiving intelligence that Raqqawi and others were in the northeastern town, which has suffered from a spillover of violence from nearly five years of conflict in Syria.
Nusra Front and Islamic State fighters have staged regular incursions into Arsal from the barren hills just outside the town. They overran the town briefly in 2014 before withdrawing to the hills after clashes with the army.
But security sources say that Nusra and Islamic State groups continue to have a strong presence in the town, where thousands of Syrian refugees live in dire conditions. They say sometimes the insurgents descend into the town at night to threaten or kill those who oppose them.
Nusra Front freed 16 Lebanese soldiers and policemen in December in exchange for the release of jailed Islamists. It had captured the soldiers during the Arsal incursion in 2014. Islamic State is believed to be still holding nine soldiers it captured.