The Lebanese army started destroying Syrian refugee settlements in northeast Lebanon on Monday after the expiry of a government ultimatum, officials said. Keen not to encourage Syrians to settle permanently, the government had given refugees in the village of Arsal until 1 July to demolish shelters made of other materials than timber and plastic sheeting, which it considers illegal. Lebanon, a country of some four million people, hosts between 1.5 and 2 million Syrians on its soil.
Lebanon's Shia Islamist movement Hezbollah claimed it had killed 46 Sunni radicals during its offensive to liberate the northeastern region of Arsal, next to the Syrian border.
At least 17 soldiers have been killed battling the jihadists, who are reportedly from several different extremist groups fighting in Syria.
Security officials say the gunmen in Arsal include fighters linked to the Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot that has seized territory in Syria and Iraq, as well as Syria's al Qaeda branch, the Nusra Front.