American Herald Tribune | Marwa Osman: Resistance military media uploaded scenes of the entry of Hezbollah resistance fighters to once Nusra inhabited areas of the Lebanese Arsal barrens showing the removal of the flag of the terrorists and raising the flag of Lebanon and the banner of the Hezbollah resistance. This is a summary of the 3 days of consecutive resistance advancement in the eastern Lebanese village of Arsal on the borderline with Syria’s mountainous Qalamoun region.
The sites occupied by the Nusra Front, in the Arsal barrens, fell one after the other in the hands of the resistance. The great progress achieved by the resistance (liberating about 70 percent of the land occupied by Nusra) paved the way for a quick solution against Abu Malik Tali group and the end of the first phase of the ongoing battle.
Once again, the resistance proved crystal clear that it is the protector of the country and the liberator of the land. From the liberation of south Lebanon from Israeli occupation in the year 2000, to preventing the occupation and breaking the myth of the undefeatable Israeli army in 2006, to preventing terrorist organizations from taking control of the Lebanese-Syrian borders starting in 2012, and finally to liberating the occupied Arsal barrens.
In the absence of a full functioning state, and the inability of the political authority to take a decision to protect the country’s sovereignty, the resistance has proven to be the sole and real guardian of the country, the blood of its fighters, the martyrdom of its people in terrorist attacks and the accumulated experience for more than three decades against all odds are more than enough evidence. These facts are no longer limited to the resistance supporters alone. There is a broad, transient solidarity of political forces and sectarian strife, which expresses itself in the means of social communication, in the attitudes of politicians, artists, activists, intellectuals and the local media which was never friendly to the resistance or to its project to begin with. Arsal battle changed all that. It brought unprecedented unity to the political and social scene in Lebanon in a way we would have never predicted.
The anti-resistance forces seemed isolated, and their voices did rise, but the unlawful cries were useless. Three days have passed since the battle to liberate Arsal barrens from the occupation of the terrorist Nusra Front began. A few days were enough for the resistance to make progress faster than planned. However, it was no surprise, given the experience of long-time combat fighters, and their struggle against terrorists in Syria since 2011. But there are several factors that have suggested that the battle of Arsal barrens may be more difficult than it has emerged. For once, the geography of the mission at hand is difficult, and very rough.
Most of Arsal barrens’ occupied territories are more than 2,000 meters above sea level, with many valleys, hills, plateaus, grottos and caves. The nature of this area plays a positive role for the terrorists, as they can exploit their natural terrain to stand up against the resistance, using guided missiles, which they possess in large numbers, and inflict as many casualties as possible. Also, an important hindrance for the resistance fighters is that they are fighting on the ground without air cover inside Lebanese territory as compared to having Syrian army air cover when they fight inside Syrian territory.
In addition, the resistance is fighting terrorist groups that are supposedly the “elite” forces among armed mercenaries in Syria. Terrorists in Arsal barrens have known the area where they have been deployed for six years. Based on the geography and combat conditions of the Nusra fighters, it is safe to say that these terrorist groups were supposed to engage in a very fierce defensive war against both the resistance and the Syrian Arab army fighting them in the occupied part of Syrian territory without allowing an advance into the Lebanese border. However, although the confrontations in the last three days were violent, they still ended in favor of the resistance, whose rapid progress has reduced the area controlled by the Nusra Front to about 30 percent of what it had previously controlled, while liberating the entire Syrian Fleeta heights and barrens.
As a result of the fighting, the number of main sites liberated and controlled by the Hezbollah resistance fighters exceeded that of 17 sites, while, according to field source, the intensity of the fighting killed more than 100 militants from Nusra in the three days of the mission.
Local Lebanese media Al Manar reported that more than 220 fighters from the terrorist Saraya Ahl Al Sham brigades, announced their withdrawal from Arsal barrens, and after coordinating with the resistance, moved to a camp for displaced Syrian refugees in the valley of Hamid and the amusement park in the outskirts of the town of Arsal until the fighting ends.
As for the Nusra fighters, a number of them withdrew from their positions towards areas under the control of Daesh. The resistance military media reported that “one of the Nusra officials, Abu Talha al-Ansari, fled with about 30 gunmen towards Qal’at al-Husn (old citadel), east of Arsal barrens.” This could be considered an indication that he is to join forces with Daesh fighters in that area.
Several military experts interviewed in local Lebanese media believe that if progress continues the same as over the past three days, the battle will be resolved within days.
After Wadi al-Khail, the focus will be on the area of Khirbet Yunin (the northern valley of Wadi al-Khail and the plain of Ajram), the Zumrani checkpoint (the frontline between the Nusra and Daesh militants), the al-Husn al-Kabir (the Great Fortress) area, east of Khirbet Yunin in Wadi Al Dib (bear valley), which has a tunnel under its steep terrain, which has been dug by the Popular Front decades ago.
The “Great Fortress” is the stronghold of the Nusra Front Leadership, which indicates that the «Amir» of Nusra known as Abu Malik Tali might have resorted to that area.
After the liberation of the areas controlled by Nusra ends, the first phase of the mission would be completed. The second phase would be to begin liberating the areas occupied by Daesh. These areas are larger than the areas under Nusra Front control, and even more rugged. However, the good news is that the Daesh controlled area is far from the town of Arsal, which means it is located far from the Syrian refugee camps of Arsal, and therefore the resistance will be more capable of preparing for battle, maneuvering and selecting the best targets to attack.
For its part, the Lebanese army protected of the town of Arsal and the refugee camps of the displaced Syrians in its outlying areas. On Saturday July 22, the Lebanese army encountered infiltration attempts carried out by Nusra militants towards the refugee camps in the Wadi al-Dam and Wadi al-Za’our areas. The attempts were thwarted by the Lebanese army’s artillery which successfully targeted those groups, forcing them to retreat more than once.
The mission seems to be ending soon with a unanimous solidarity for both the resistance and the Lebanese army. This mission signals the real launching of a new presidential era in Lebanon where President Michel Aoun successfully managed to orchestrate the unity of the people in support of the national forces that have pledged to sacrifice all what it holds dear and precious to keep Lebanon safe from the claws of terrorism, occupation and division.