The Syrian army and resistance fighters with Lebanon’s resistance movement have launched a joint operation against Takfiri militant groups in border areas between the two countries.
The operation, which started on Friday, is targeting terrorists in the Juroud Arsal area on the outskirts of the Lebanese town of Arsal, and in areas of the western Qalamoun mountains in Syria, a Syrian commander told Reuters.
Nearly 3,000 militants, two-third of which are from Daesh and al-Nusra Takfiri groups, have been using the barren area in the mountains between Syria and Lebanon as a base to organize attacks inside Syria.
According to Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV, the offensives in Juroud Arsal and in areas near the Syrian town of Fleita target militants with the Takfiri Jabhat Fateh al-Sham terror group, better known as al-Nusra Front.
The Lebanese army has also enhanced its deployment on the outskirts of Arsal town to prevent militants from fleeing into Lebanon, a Lebanese security source said.
Recently, there were speculations that Hezbollah resistance movement and the Syrian military were preparing to mount a major operation against the militants on the Syrian side of the border.
Hours after the launch of the offensive, Syrian forces and their Hezbollah allies seized the Tallat al-Burkan hill west of Qalamoun from the militants.
Reuters quoted a Lebanese security source as saying that Syrian refugees fled from camps located in an area of the Lebanese-Syrian border in the wake of the operation.
Earlier in July, Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah gave an ultimatum to the militants along the border near the country’s northeastern area of Arsal to reach an agreement with Syrian officials, warning that it was “high time to end the threat of militant groups in Arsal.”
On Tuesday, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri said the Lebanese army would launch an operation against Takfiri terrorists in Juroud Arsal, noting that the government has given the army the “freedom” to take action.
Hariri, however, said “there is no coordination between the Lebanese and Syrian armies.”
The Arsal area was hardly hit by the spillover of the Syria crisis in 2014, when the 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 Jurud 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, fighters with the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement have so far fended off several attacks by Daesh.
Hezbollah says its counterterrorism mission in Syria is aimed at preventing the spillover of the crisis into Lebanon.