Hezbollah claims advances in border offensive near Syria

Captured position by Hezbollah inside Lebanon on the outskirts of Arsal

As fighting rages on in the Jurud Arsal region of Lebanon and in the western Qalamoun region of Syria, Hezbollah has claimed several advances against Sunni jihadists.

Since the operation to clear the border area began Friday, numerous videos have been uploaded to Hezbollah’s War Media Center on Telegram and YouTube. In one video, the Shiite jihadists are seen capturing a Sunni jihadist-occupied hill in the Jurud Arsal region of Lebanon (photo above). In others, Hezbollah fighters and the Syrian army are seen advancing near the town of Fleita in Syria’s western Qalamoun region.

Today, the Shiite jihadist group claimed capturing Fleita barrens and its surroundings alongside the Syrian military. Several infographics from Hezbollah have also been released showing the progress against the Sunni forces on both sides of the border. The infographics do not show the position of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), however, an English translation of one graph by Lebanese publication The Daily Star does show LAF positions.

Hay’at Tahrir al Sham (HTS), a coalition of different jihadist and rebel groups in Syria in which al Qaeda’s branch operates, has also claimed that its forces killed over 50 Hezbollah fighters and that several attacks were repelled. This number is likely exaggerated.

However, at least 15 Hezbollah fighters have been confirmed killed in the battles so far. Several have been eulogized on Hezbollah-linked social media accounts. A funeral procession for six of those fighters was also held yesterday in one of Beirut’s southern suburbs, a Hezbollah stronghold.

Additionally, Saraya Ahl al Sham – a Free Syrian Army-branded coalition of rebel groups in western Qalamoun – reportedly withdrew from its positions following the Hezbollah-led advance.

Despite claims to the contrary by Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, the LAF is coordinating its efforts near Arsal with the Hezbollah-led offensive on the border. Lebanese troops are said to be positioned on the outskirts of Arsal to prevent the flow of jihadists into the city. The Shiite forces appear to be undertaking the brunt of the military operation. (See Threat Matrix report, Lebanese military coordinates with Hezbollah, Syrian military in border operation.)

Hezbollah infographic showing advances:

English translation of an earlier infographic from The Daily Star showing the positions of the LAF:

Hezbollah and Syrian troops advancing near Fleita in western Qalamoun:

Hezbollah advances in Jurud Arsal, Lebanon:

Caleb Weiss is an intern at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a contributor to The Long War Journal.

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4 Comments

  • Steve Silverman says:

    Not to make it sound easy, but seems like Hezballah fighters would be sitting ducks for allied drones etc.
    Can anyone say why not ?

    • Paul Cock says:

      Because it would be a provocation for Iran, Steve Silverman, if Israel wants to do it OK, but it is not the task of the coalition to make it even worse as it is now.

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