Lebanese Army to launch battle against Daesh within days: Source

Author: Najia HoussariThu, 2017-08-17 03:00ID: 1502915282824378400BEIRUT: The operation against Daesh in the barren areas of Ras Baalbek and Al-Qaa, in eastern Lebanon, is the prelude to an upcoming battle that will be announced in two or three days, a Lebanese military source told Arab News.
The Lebanese Army on Wednesday took back some of the Dahr Al-Khanzir hills in Ras Baalbek, the source said.
The army is still progressing in the barren areas of Arsal close to the border, from which militants of Jabhat Fatah Al-Sham and Saraya Ahl Al-Sham had withdrawn, he said, adding that civilians cannot return to these areas until after the battle against Daesh. Its start will be announced at a press conference to explain its detailed steps, he said.
Meanwhile, the army heavily shelled the outskirts of Ras Baalbek and Al-Qaa on Tuesday night and Wednesday. Some media outlets reported that five Daesh militants were killed.
“Every day the army targets and kills Daesh militants, but we don’t announce it,” said the military source.
Army Commander Joseph Aoun on Tuesday made a surprise visit to Ras Baalbek and inspected a number of army centers.
He met with field officers preparing for the battle, and returned to Beirut on Tuesday night without giving details about his visit.
Meanwhile, the military source denied any relation between the presence of American military experts in Riyaq base and the upcoming battle against Daesh. Their presence is related to training the Lebanese Army on US weapons, he said.
Hezbollah on Wednesday said Syrian airstrikes targeted Daesh in the highlands of Al-Hashishat, Abu Hidaij and Qara, all of which are Syrian barren areas that are an extension of the Lebanese mountains where Daesh militants are hiding.
Ras Baalbek Mayor Duraid Rahal said: “Life is normal in the town while shelling is clearly heard.”
All citizens, the municipality and institutions support the army in this battle, and they are ready to help prevent any infiltration or subversive operations, he added.
Former Lebanese president and army commander, Michel Sleiman, said the army would be victorious thanks to its combat experience.
Speaking in the presence of US Ambassador Elizabeth Richard, Sleiman stressed the importance of the international community supporting the army in this battle, as do all Lebanese parties and people.
MP and president of the Lebanese Kataeb Party, Sami Gemayel, asked during a parliamentary session on Wednesday whether there was coordination between the Lebanese and Syrian armies and Hezbollah in the fighting in Arsal and now in Al-Qaa.
“Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri confirmed that there was no coordination… whereas Interior Minister Nohad Al-Mashnouq affirmed the existence of such coordination,” said Gemayel.
He asked whether a visit by some ministers to Damascus is being undertaken in a personal or official capacity. There was no answer from government representatives attending the parliamentary session.
But Al-Hariri told journalists upon entering Parliament that the visit by Hezbollah’s Hussein Al-Hajj Hasan and Amal’s Ghazi Zaiter was not being undertaken in an official capacity.
Main category: Middle-East

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