Hezbollah cheers as anti-IS fight at Lebanon border nears end

James Marshall
August 25, 2017

Hezbollah has captured much of an Islamic State pocket on Syria's side of the border with Lebanon in a joint offensive with the Syrian army, its leader said on Thursday.

The colonel's comments to the Lebanon-based Al-Mayadeen TV came as Lebanese artillery and aircraft pounded IS positions on the other side of the border as part of Lebanon's own offensive against the extremists.

Both offensives have advanced towards the Syrian-Lebanese border from opposite sides. The Lebanese army says it is not coordinating the assault with the Syrian army or Shi'ite Hezbollah, which Washington classifies as a terrorist group.

The Syrian army, Hezbollah and the Lebanese army have all targeted IS militants, aiming to clear them from the western Qalamoun mountain range on the border of the two states. At the same time, Hezbollah, along with Syrian army, is conducting operations against Daesh on the Syrian side of the border.

The frontier battle was nearing a "very big victory", Nasrallah said.

According to Nasrallah, the Lebanese army has liberated 100 square km of the IS-controlled 120 square km land.

"Islamic State is on the back foot in Iraq and Syria".

Its involvement in Syria is a cause of political tension in Beirut and has strained Lebanon's policy of "dissociation" from regional conflicts.

Earlier this month, dozens of Nusra Front militants and thousands of Syrian refugees were transferred from Lebanon into rebel-held Syria in a deal negotiated between Hezbollah, the Syrian government and Nusra Front. He said in televised remarks that for any settlement for IS fighters in the area, the fate of nine Lebanese soldiers whom the extremists kidnapped in 2014 must be revealed. The Iran-backed Hezbollah has been fighting in Syria alongside President Bashar Assad's forces since 2013.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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