Lebanese army advances against Daesh in border battle

FRENCH PRESS AGENCY - AFP
BEIRUT
Published 20.08.2017 22:41

Lebanese soldiers renewed fire on the Daesh terrorist group positions on the country's eastern border with Syria Sunday after capturing a third of the territory held by militants in the area.

Lebanon's army began its operation in the Jurud Ras Baalbek and Jurud al-Qaa region early on Saturday, and in the first day captured around 30 square kilometers (11 miles square) of territory, a military spokesman said. "That is around a third of the area controlled by the terrorists," Brigadier General Nazih Jreij said late Saturday. Jreij said 20 Daesh fighters had been killed in the clashes, and 10 Lebanese soldiers wounded.

Lebanon's battle against Daesh comes as the group faces assaults in both neighboring Syria and Iraq, where the government early Sunday announced an offensive on the group's bastion of Tal Afar. Lebanon's military estimated around 600 Daesh fighters were present in the Jurud Ras Baalbek and Jurud al-Qaa areas, controlling around 120 square kilometers of territory before Saturday's advances.

On Sunday, Lebanon's National News Agency reported soldiers were firing heavy artillery and rockets at Daesh positions in Jurud Ras Baalbek.

The army's assault comes after Lebanon's powerful Shiite militant group Hezbollah waged its own campaign against militants operating in another border area south of the current battle. The group's six-day offensive against Daesh and al-Qaida's former affiliate in the Jurud Arsal area ended with a ceasefire. Security along Lebanon's eastern border with Syria has long been a concern, and in 2014 jihadists invaded the town of Arsal and kidnapped 30 Lebanese soldiers and police.

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