Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Hezbollah claims to have killed 2 IS commanders near Lebanon Syria border

Al-Manar TV operated by Hezbollah reports that two Islamic State commanders together with at least seven other militants were killed on the outskirts of the northeastern Lebanese border town of Arsal in two separate attacks.
The attacks took place on Friday June 19. One commander, Abu Aisha al-Libi along with six other militants were killed when Hezbollah forces targeted a militant meeting. The aim of the meeting was to plan an offensive on the outskirts of the city of Baalbek, the TV station claimed.
The same Hezbollah group destroyed two convoys of IS fighters in the same area. This second attack was said to have killed another IS commander, Abu Akrama al-Zouhouri, as well as another IS fighter. Last week Hezbollah lost eight fighters in repelling an attack on the Lebanon border. The Islamic State is said to have lost around 50 militants in that battle.
Hezbollah is a Shi'a Islamist militant group with its own militia and political party in Lebanon. It is supported by Iran. It has many seats in the Lebanese government and together with its allies has a virtual veto power over legislation. It has its own radio and TV station. Since 2012 Hezbollah has helped the Assad government against rebels in the civil war. Hezbollah has historically been regarded as a strong resistance movement against Israel, but its involvement in the Syrian civil war has been criticized by many in Lebanon, especially Sunnis since Assad's government is dominated by a Shi'a sect.
Al Manar reported that last Tuesday, the "emir" of the Qalamoun region, Abu-Baghdadi was killed in shelling also on the outskirts of Arsal. Hezbollah together with the Syrian army also took fresh territory near the government-held town of Jarajeer killing and wounding many militants. Hezbollah together with the Syrian army have been fighting both the Islamic State and the Al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front for more than a month, slowly driving them out of many areas. The Assad regime with Hezbollah now controls about two thirds of the area. A source claimed to be close to Hezbollah says that at least 39 Hezbollah fighters, and 244 militants have been killed since the offensive was launched last May 4. Rebel militants are now confined to part of the northern Qalamoun hills on the eastern outskirts of the towns of Arsal and Ras Baalbek. Hasan Nasrallah, Hezbollah chief, vowed he would drive the Islamic State from the area.


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