Fighters from Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement, backed by Syrian warplanes, have managed to liberate several border areas between the two countries from the clutches of the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham Takfiri terrorist group, formerly known as al-Nusra Front, in an ongoing joint counter-terrorism operation.
Hezbollah fighters managed to liberate Sahl al-Raweh, Sahr al-Haweh, Wadi Dakik, Taftanaz and Wadi Zaarour Baren areas in the Juroud Arsal region on the outskirts of the Lebanese town of Arsal on Friday.
In the western Qalamoun mountains in Syria, Hezbollah fighters also recaptured al-Burkan hill and al-Koreh Awwal, Zalil al-Haj and Harf al-Sabah areas from terrorists, with the aid of heavy artillery fire.
The whole region straddles the border between the two countries and the joint operation to liberate its militant-areas began in the early hours of Friday. According to the Lebanese resistance movement and the Syrian army, the offensive will continue until the entire region in cleansed from the presence of Takfiri terrorists.
At least 17 terrorists were killed in the operation, in which five Hezbollah fighters also lost their lives.
Lebanese army troops have not yet taken part in the offensive despite being deployed around Arsal town and some nearby areas. Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri had earlier said the army would participate in the liberation operation.
On Saturday, which marks the second day of the operation, Hezbollah said it liberated Wadi al-Khalil and adjacent hills in the Arsal region.
The Arsal area was hardly hit by the spillover of the Syria crisis in 2014, when militants managed to overrun the town for a brief period. Around 45,000 Syrian refugees, registered with the UN, live in the town, but more are believed to be living in camps in the Juroud area, although their numbers have not been confirmed.
Lebanon has often seen the infiltration of Takfiri elements from neighboring Syria into its territory, where they target the civilian population or security forces with bombings.
Assisting army forces, Hezbollah fighters have so far fended off several attacks by the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and Daesh Takfiri terrorist groups. Hezbollah says its mission in Syria is aimed at preventing the spillover of the crisis into Lebanon.
Syria pounds Daesh in E Raqqah
In a separate counter-terrorism operation on Syrian soil, army fighter jets on Saturday bombed Daesh positions east of Raqah City, the state television reported, quoting a military source.
The strikes in the town of Maadan and village of Bir al-Sabkhawi, near the provincial boundary with Dayr al-Zawr, “destroyed several bases and vehicles” belonging to the Takfiri terror group.
The Syrian army, backed by Russian air cover, is engaged in anti-Daesh operations in Raqqah’s western countryside side, where it has made several gains against the terror group.
The eastern countryside of Raqqah, which was hit by Syrian fighter jets, has been the scene of a separate offensive by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance dominated by Kurdish fighters.