Lebanese army says four detainees died from illness

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanon’s army said on Tuesday that four Syrian men it had arrested after a raid on a refugee camp on Friday had died while in detention from chronic illnesses.

It said in a statement posted on its website that the four were already unwell but that after a routine medical inspection upon their arrest, their condition worsened and they died.

They were taken to hospital without having been interrogated and the deterioration in their condition was due to the weather, the statement said, without elaborating. The weather in Lebanon has been hot.

They were among about 350 people detained during raids targeting Islamist militants on Friday in refugee camps around Arsal in north Lebanon during which four suicide bombers attacked the army, the statement said.

The raids were part of a security sweep by the army in an area that has been a flashpoint for violent spillover from the Syria crisis and is located near a jihadist enclave.

The head of Arsal municipality, Basel al-Hujairi, earlier told Reuters that the municipality had received the bodies of four refugees who died after an explosion during the raid.

The municipality received the bodies on behalf of their families because the refugees are prohibited from leaving the area around Arsal, he said.

He was also waiting to receive three more bodies of people who died after the raid from another hospital, he said. It was not clear whether the four people mentioned in the Lebanese army statement were among the bodies the Arsal municipality had received or expected to receive.

The situation in Arsal was now calm, Hujairi said.

Reporting By Suleiman al-Khalidi and Angus McDowall