Lebanon-Syria Border: Hezbollah ‘Tightening Noose’ on Jihadists

Lebanese Shiite terror group Hezbollah, fighting in Syria to support the ruling regime, said on Wednesday it was tightening the noose around the last remaining jihadist pockets along the Lebanese-Syrian border.

Hezbollah has been fighting rebels and jihadists from the Al-Nusra Front, Al-Qaeda's Syria affiliate, in Qalamun, the mountainous border area north of Damascus.

On Wednesday, the group's official media reported "violent clashes" with Al-Nusra near Arsal, a Sunni Lebanese town on the frontier with Syria.

Al-Nusra and the Islamic State group briefly overran Arsal last August, and are still holding 25 soldiers and policemen hostage.

Hezbollah head Hassan Nasrallah had pledged to clear the town's outskirts of jihadists, saying in a televised speech on May 24 that "the whole Lebanese border is now outside the control of armed men, except the area around Arsal".

Hezbollah television station Al-Manar reported Wednesday that fighters from the Shiite movement seized several hilltops near Arsal and destroyed Al-Nusra vehicles there, "leaving dozens dead and wounded" among rebels.

The terror organization "is encircling the caves and the locations where the armed men of Al-Nusra are", it reported, broadcasting footage of fighters storming a hill and saying it was an assault against jihadists.

A Lebanese security source told AFP that "the clashes are happening for the first time around Arsal", but could not confirm whether Hezbollah had advanced.

Lebanon's army declined to comment on Hezbollah's operations.

"We do not have any comment on this topic. The army protects Arsal and the areas (close to Syria) and has isolated them from where the jihadists are," an army spokesman said.

"We are doing our duty."

Last week, the army intensified its patrols in Arsal "to prevent any attack on the area", the spokesman said.

Hezbollah, which has said it wants to protect Lebanon "from the jihadist menace," has been fighting in Syria on behalf of President Bashar al-Assad's regime for more than two years.

It has claimed in recent weeks to have seized most of Qalamun from jihadists.

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/196256

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