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Hezbollah, Syria Army Launch Offensive Near Lebanese Border

Lebanese army soldiers patrol a street in Labwe, at the entrance of the border town of Arsal, in eastern Bekaa Valley, Lebanon on July 21.Lebanese army soldiers patrol a street in Labwe, at the entrance of the border town of Arsal, in eastern Bekaa Valley, Lebanon on July 21.

Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the Syrian army launched an offensive to drive insurgents from their last foothold on the Syrian-Lebanese border on Friday, a pro-Damascus military commander said.

The operation targeted insurgents from the Nusra Front group in the mountainous outskirts of the Lebanese town of Arsal and areas near the Syrian town of Fleita, the commander said, Reuters reported.

Media run by Hezbollah reported significant gains by its side in the early stage of the operation.

A Lebanese security source said refugees living in the area were fleeing toward Arsal and the Lebanese army was facilitating their passage with UN supervision.

UN refugee agency (UNHCR) spokeswoman Lisa Abou Khaled said only a small number of people had fled to Arsal town so far.

“UNHCR has only received confirmation ... that two Syrian families have arrived in the town of Arsal from the outskirts,” she said.

Several thousand Syrian refugees occupy camps east of the town in an area known as Juroud Arsal, a barren mountainous zone between Syria and Lebanon that has served as a base for Islamic State militants  and other rebels fighting in Syria’s six-year civil war.

Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV said Nusra militants were under attack in Juroud Arsal and in areas near the Syrian town of Fleita. A military news outlet run by Hezbollah reported Syrian army air strikes on Nusra positions near Fleita.

 

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