Lebanon starts offensive to clear border of IS militants


Lebanon starts offensive to clear border of IS militants

In a televised news conference later on Saturday, a spokesman for the Lebanese army, Brigadier General Ali Qansowa, said that the military operations would continue until Daesh terrorists were expelled from Lebanese territory.

Lebanon's Shi'ite Hezbollah group on Saturday started a joint military operation with the Syrian army against an Islamic State pocket on Syria's border with Lebanon, the Hezbollah-affiliated al-Manar television station reported.

The army operations destroyed a number of IS fortifications, killing and injuring a number of the terrorists, SANA said.

The army in Lebanon will have to liberate around 120 sq km from the IS, while the Syrian army and Hezbollah are fighting to defeat the group in 150 sq km of border terrain.

Any joint operation between the Lebanese army on the one hand, and Hezbollah and the Syrian army on the other would be politically sensitive in Lebanon and could jeopardize the sizeable US military aid the country receives.

Lebanese military sources have said the army would fight Islamic State on Lebanese soil without any direct cooperation with the Syrian army or Hezbollah. Hezbollah has been fighting alongside President Bashar Assad's forces in Syria since 2013. "Our mission is to clear the border areas all the way to the Syrian borders".

At the same time, Hezbollah along with Syrian army is conducting operations against Daesh on the Syrian side of the border.

The Lebanese army has been gearing up to launch an assault against the enclave from inside Lebanon and is expected to start its offensive soon.

Operations commenced before dawn, with the military striking IS positions in the eastern border areas with Syria, Brig.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun called field commanders from the Defense Ministry where he was monitoring operations early to tell them, "You will not disappoint us", and "Our hearts and minds are with you", according to video broadcast on TV channels across the country. Its Lebanese critics oppose Hezbollah's role in the Syrian war.