The possibility that the Lebanese army carry out the anticipated Arsal operation instead of Hizbullah is “ruled out,” a military source has said.
“Should the battle erupted, it will be launched from Syrian territory and Hizbullah will carry it out with support from the Syrian army,” the source told al-Hayat newspaper in remarks published Sunday.
“The Lebanese army’s mission would be to protect the eastern border and prevent militants from retreating towards Lebanese territory or from taking hostage the (refugee) encampment that lies in the al-Malahi area in Arsal’s outskirts,” the military source added.
The “countdown” for Hizbullah’s campaign against the jihadists of Fateh al-Sham and Islamic State in Arsal’s outskirts has started, according to media reports, in the wake of an ultimatum that has been issued by Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.
“Hizbullah has finished the necessary preparations for this battle,” al-Joumhouria newspaper has said.
Syrian warplanes have waged intense raids on Arsal’s outskirts in recent days.
Jihadists from Fateh al-Sham and the rival Islamic State group are entrenched in mountainous areas in Arsal’s outskirts and in other Lebanon-Syria border areas.
They overran Arsal in 2014 before being ousted after days of deadly battles with the Lebanese army.