Hezbollah and the Syrian army launch an offensive on Lebanon border

A Syrian boy at a refugee transit site in Arsal, Lebanon A Syrian boy at a refugee transit site in Arsal, Lebanon M.Hofer/UNHCR

26 July 2017
The Syrian Army and the Lebanese group Hezbollah attacked the Islamist fighters in the city of Arsal, on the border between Lebanon and Syria.

In recent years, the Islamist groups, including the Islamic State, Nusra Front and jihadist factions, found a refuge in this mountainous region, known as Jurud Arsal, and near the Syrian town of Fleita. This area is hosting thousands of refugees, accommodated in different camps. In fact, since the outbreak of the civilian war, Lebanon received more than one million Syrian refugees.

In June, the Lebanese Army started an operation to defeat the militants but every attempt to convince them to leave peacefully the area failed as the soldiers were attacked by suicide bombings. Hezbollah, as a consequence, had decided to intervene. According to Reuters, the militant group has killed 23 fighters and captured an operations centre along the border.

However, the intense involvement of the Shiite group alongside Assad’s forces in Syria raised many critics from the political rivals, including Mr. S.Hariri’s Future Movement party.

The Lebanese army stated that it is not directly involved in the operations but has a defensive role, monitoring the military movements. It has also reinforced the control of the suburbs of Arsal, in order to prevent the militants to cross the border and enter Lebanon.

Lynn Maalouf, the Middle-East Director of Research for Amnesty International claimed that the Army should “prioritise the protection of Lebanese residents as well as Syrian refugees in the area” because “Thousands of lives are on the line” and “allow access for aid organization and emergency medical services (..) in accordance with international human rights law and standards”.


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