A Hezbollah ambush has killed three militants who were experts in preparing car bombs along with four of their bodyguards in the strategic Qalamoun region of Syria near the Lebanese border, a source close to the party says.
“A special Hezbollah unit infiltrated 11 kilometers deep inside rebel-held territory in the Qalamoun region and planted bombs inside the garden of a house frequented by the three car-rigging experts,” the source told The Daily Star on Sunday.
“When the three rigging experts arrived along with four bodyguards at 10:45 a.m. Sunday, the bombs were detonated, which resulted in the killing of the three along with their four bodyguards.”
The three rigging experts were identified as Ahmad Ali Hamra, Farid Mohammad Kheir Jumaa and Hussam Masoud Hammoud.
Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV, quoting a senior security source, said the military operation in Qalamoun targeted “security officials of an armed group responsible for sending bomb-rigged cars to Lebanon.”
Also Sunday, a senior Hezbollah official said the Syrian army’s recent recapture of the town of Yabroud, the last strategic rebel stronghold in the Qalamoun mountains, would curb car bombings and suicide attacks in Lebanon.
Syrian army forces, backed by Hezbollah fighters, recaptured the border town of Yabroud on March 16, dealing a heavy military blow to rebels and severing their supply lines from Lebanon.
It was the second major victory in the area after Syrian President Bashar Assad’s troops, also backed by Hezbollah fighters, captured the key rebel-held town of Qusayr near the border with Lebanon last year.
Hezbollah officials have blamed rebel groups entrenched in Yabroud for rigging vehicles with explosives and sending them to Lebanon.
Lebanon has been rattled by a wave of deadly car bombings and suicide attacks carried out by Al-Qaeda-affiliated groups targeting mainly Shia areas in Beirut’s southern suburbs and the Bekaa Valley. The attacks also targeted the Iranian Embassy and the Iranian Cultural Center in Beirut.
Lebanese and Syrian Al-Qaeda-linked groups, such as the Nusra Front, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Abdallah Azzam Brigades, have vowed to attack Hezbollah and Iranian targets in Lebanon in retaliation for their support for Syria.