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Four Lebanese soldiers died Monday in an ambush in the hinterlands of Lebanon's Bekka Valley. The assailants attacked the soldiers' vehicle with small arms and rocket propelled grenade fire on a major road and in broad daylight. An officer is reportedly in serious condition.
The main suspects are the powerful clans who control the growing and smuggling of drugs in the valley.
The conflict between the Lebanese state and the drug clans has heated up over the last few months. The head of one of the clans was recently killed by the army at a checkpoint. The army has cracked down on car theft and other illegal activities related to the clans.
The attack drew the ire of Lebanese across the political spectrum, including Hezbollah. The army is one of the few institutions to have full backing from nearly all of Lebanon's deeply divided political parties.
"The military is a red line that should not be crossed by anyone," Interior Minister Ziad Baroud said Monday. "It is unacceptable that the military be dealt with in the manner it was today. We shall strike with an iron fist to prevent this from happening again."