Hezbollah says begun assault on IS Lebanon border pocket from Syria

Lebanese army artillery

Lebanese army artillery

Meanwhile, there are reports that Hezbollah and the Syrian military are attacking ISIS in Syria.

The Lebanese army was targeting Islamic State positions near the town of Ras Baalbek with rockets, artillery and helicopters, the source said.

Lebanon's USA -backed army on Saturday launched its biggest military operation yet against Islamic State militants, who gained a foothold along the border with neighboring Syria in 2014.

In the last battle against Nusra, the Syrian army and Hezbollah were fighting on the Syrian side of the border, and other Hezbollah fighters were battling on the Lebanese side of the frontier.

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Nevertheless, Hezbollah ministers hold key portfolios in the Lebanese government, and the country is now accustomed to seeing the militant group run operations in parallel with the army.

The source said the IS militants started surrendering after the advance of the army and Hezbollah in Zamrani area of Qalamoun. He warned of a hard battle ahead.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun was following the army operation, called Jroud Dawn. The barren hills in eastern Lebanon will leave infantry exposed to IS snipers, and the militants are expected to mine the area on a vast scale.

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. The area is the last part of the Lebanese-Syrian frontier under insurgent control. That would spare Washington the potential embarrassment of appearing to be allied with a group it classifies as a terror organization. The Lebanese military clarified that it isn't cooperating with the Syrian military in the operation.

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The Lebanese army, a major recipient of United States military aid, did not take part in the July operation, but it has been gearing up to target the ISIL pocket in the same mountainous region.

The Lebanese Shi'ite group has had a strong presence there since 2015 after it defeated Syrian Sunni rebels who had controlled local villages and towns.

Hezbollah has provided critical military support to President Bashar al-Assad during Syria's six-year-long war. Around half of the territory is on the Lebanese side of the border.

The fate of nine Lebanese soldiers taken captive by Islamic State in 2014 remains unknown.

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