Lebanon: Three Soldiers Killed in Suicide Car Bomb

Sunni Islamists claim responsibility for attack in revenge for death of terror suspect; comes as Hezbollah, regime make gains in Syria.

Ari Soffer ,

Aftermath of August bombing in Beirut
Aftermath of August bombing in Beirut

A suicide bomber killed three Lebanese soldiers and wounded several others Saturday, in an attack on a Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) checkpoint in the flashpoint town of Arsal, on the border with Syria.

According to Lebanese media the bomber drove up to the recently-erected checkpoint in the Baalbek region before detonating the explosives, killing the three soldiers and injuring at least six others.

An obscure Sunni Islamist group calling itself the "Free Sunnis of Baalbek Brigade” claimed responsibility for the attack, and said it was in response to the killing of Sami al-Atrash, a terror suspect said to be linked to car bomb attacks against Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, who was recently killed in a shootout with the Lebanese army.

The attack may also have been a response to the fall of two villages in Syria's Qalamoun region by Syrian army and Hezbollah forces, as part of an ongoing offensive to root-out rebels there and cut off access to Lebanon for Sunni rebels.

Hezbollah's role in that offensive - as in a similar one in the the Qusair region - has been costly: more than 120 of its fighters were reportedly killed in the battle for the town of Yabroud alone.

Hezbollah's role in the Syrian civil war on the side of the Assad regime has made it a target for Sunni groups who back the Syrian rebel movement, forcing the Iranian-backed Shia terrorist group to have to cope with a wave of car bombings, shootings and rocket attacks against its positions - including in Arsal itself, where Hezbollah was recently accused of staging an armed takeover of the mainly Sunni town.