Lebanese villagers repel fighters who crossed from Syria -Lebanese sources

BEIRUT Sat Aug 9, 2014 12:11pm EDT

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BEIRUT (Reuters) - Fighters identified as Islamist militants crossed into Lebanon from Syria on Saturday, triggering an exchange of fire with Lebanese villagers who forced them back across the border, Lebanese security sources and a villager said.

The gun battle near the village of Kfar Qouq followed a battle between gunmen and Syrian security forces on the other side of frontier, the sources said. It was not immediately clear if there were any casualties.

Kfar Qouq is near the Bekaa Valley town of Rashaya and some 100 km (60 miles) south of the border town of Arsal that was seized last Saturday by Islamist militants who crossed from Syria. That incursion was the most serious spillover yet of Syria's three-year-long civil war into Lebanon.

Dozens of people were killed in five days of fighting between the army and the militants who included Islamists affiliated to the Islamic State, which has seized territory in Syria and Iraq.

The militants pulled out of Arsal to the mountainous border zone on Thursday, taking with them 19 captive soldiers. Militant sources told Reuters on Friday they sought to exchange them for Islamists held in Lebanese jails.

(Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Robin Pomeroy and William Hardy)

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