Middle East

Syrian troops 'kill Syrian farmer in Lebanon'

File image of a Syrian military tank in Homs, 160 km northeast of Damascus, August 2011
Image caption The Syrian army has been fighting to contain protests in cities across the country

Syrian forces have crossed into Lebanese territory and shot dead a Syrian man living in a border area, reports say.

The man killed was reportedly a farmer living in a remote area of Lebanon's eastern Bekaa region. It was not clear why he was targeted.

It follows an incursion by Syrian tanks earlier this week, raising fears that Syria's unrest is spreading.

Some 5,000 Syrians have sought refuge in Lebanon in recent months.

They include deserting soldiers and opposition members fleeing a crackdown on protesters by the Syrian government.

At least 2,900 people have died in Syria since the uprising against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad began in March.

Porous border

According to reports, Syrian army vehicles crossed the border near Saaba, in the Bekaa region, and attacked farmers and their homes.

Witnesses said several buildings were damaged.

A Lebanese official told AFP news agency as saying the body of the Syrian man who died was left lying at the site, and that an investigation was under way.

It is unclear why the man, named as Ali al-Khatib - who was married to a Lebanese woman and living in the area - was killed.

The BBC's Jim Muir in Beirut says the border near the Bekaa region is porous and not even clearly defined.

Earlier this week, Syrian tanks entered the same region in a brief incursion.

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Miqati told AFP that a joint Syrian-Lebanese committee was looking into the issue.

"I am not being silent about this, we are dealing with the issue normally," he said.

"I don't want to blow these incidents out of proportion and I don't want to belittle them either," he added.

Lebanon has taken in several thousand Syrians fleeing the trouble in their own country.

Mr Miqati says they are being looked after on humanitarian grounds, but our correspondent says there have been reports of activists being hunted down and sent back to Syria.