Two Lebanese policemen freed by militants

BEIRUT Sun Aug 17, 2014 8:56am EDT

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BEIRUT (Reuters) - Islamist militants who captured more than 30 members of the Lebanese security forces have released two policemen who were handed over to officials on Sunday, security sources said.

Sunni clerics from the Muslim Clerics' Association, who mediated a truce between the militants and the army when the insurgents took over the town of Arsal on the Syrian border this month, handed the policemen to the Internal Security Forces, the sources said.

A five-day battle with the army which started on August 2 was one of the worst spillovers of Syria's civil war into Lebanon. Security sources say dozens of militants, many of them rebels from Syria, and 19 soldiers were killed.

The fighting ended when the insurgents accepted mediation by Lebanese Sunni clerics, after which they withdrew, taking captured police and soldiers with them. 19 soldiers and 14 police are still held by the militants.

(Reporting by Oliver Holmes; editing by Ralph Boulton)

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