Daesh terrorists under siege along Syria-Lebanon border: Hezbollah chief

Press TV – Leader of the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement says armed members of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group are now under siege over an area of about 60 square kilometers, which straddles Lebanon’s border with Syria, after scores of them killed by resistance fighters.

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah made the remarks on Thursday when addressing supporters of the resistance movement through a televised speech broadcast live from the Lebanese capital, Beirut.

Nasrallah also touched upon the Lebanese army’s counter-terrorism operations against Takfiri militants in Ras Baalbek village and Christian-majority town of al-Qaa, located in the Bekaa region of northern Lebanon and on the border with Syria.

At the beginning of his address, the Lebanese Hezbollah leader said main goals of anti-Daesh operations included to secure Lebanon’s border with Syria and also to determine the fate of Lebanese soldiers taken into captivity by the terrorists.

He added that another goal of the operation was to gain full control over western border of Lebanon and entirely drive out Daesh terrorists.

This file photo shows a Hezbollah armored vehicle sitting at the site where clashes erupted between Hezbollah and al-Qaeda-linked fighters in the Lebanon-Syria border. (Photo by AP)

The Hezbollah leader said at present the remnants of Daesh terrorists were surrounded over an area of 60 square kilometers, including 20 square kilometers on the Lebanese side and 40 square kilometers on the Syrian side of the border.

Explaining the existing situation on the battlefield, Nasrallah noted that 100 square kilometers of land previously under Daesh control had been liberated so far and only 20 square kilometers were still under terrorists’ control.

The Hezbollah chief said over 160 square kilometers on the Syrian side of the border was under Daesh control.

He noted that the operation actually targeted over 310 square kilometers on the Syrian side of the border, adding that up to today, 270 square kilometers of those areas had been liberated.

He stated that about 40 square kilometers on Syrian side was still under Daesh control.

A Hezbollah fighter reacts as he fires a weapon in western Qalamoun region, Syria, August 23, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

Nasrallah stated that Daesh terrorists were using civilians as human shield as they had already done in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. He emphasized that the terrorists have extended a proposal for negotiation only as a way to get out of their current predicament.

Earlier on Thursday, a pro-Damascus official, who asked not to be named, said that Daesh militants had requested the Syrian army and the Hezbollah resistance movement to let them withdraw from the Lebanese-Syrian border region to Dayr al-Zawr province in Syria.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Nasrallah pointed out that the so-called Daesh leadership was not concerned about the quandary that members of the terror group were caught in, and did not let the Takfiris leave the border region between Lebanon and Syria peacefully.

He went on to say that Hezbollah had embarked on negotiations with Daesh militants in western Qalamoun in order to peacefully obtain the same objectives that its anti-terror campaign was meant to accomplish.

The Hezbollah chief stressed that the Lebanese government had to be coordinated with Syrian authorities as to any deal that its officials might strike with Daesh terrorists.

Hezbollah fighters stand near military tanks in western Qalamoun, Syria, August 23, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

Nasrallah then stated that if it was up to Daesh, the terrorist group would prefer the military option over negotiations due to its radical state of mind.

He also lashed out at the US embassy in Lebanon for threatening local media outlets against presenting Hezbollah as the guarantor of the country’s security.

On August 19, Hezbollah and the Syrian army launched an operation to purge Daesh from Qalamoun, located about 330 kilometers north of the Syrian capital Damascus.

Hezbollah launched a major push on July 21 to clear both sides of Lebanon’s border with Syria of “armed terrorists.”

In August 2014, the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and Daesh terrorist groups overran Arsal, killing a number of Lebanese forces. They took 30 soldiers hostage, most of whom have been released.

A still image taken on August 19, 2017 from footage of Hezbollah military handout shows a Hezbollah military tank firing at western Qalamoun, Syria. (Photo by Reuters)

Since then, Hezbollah and the Lebanese military have been defending Lebanon on the country’s northeastern frontier against foreign-backed terrorist groups from neighboring Syria.

Hezbollah fighters have fended off several Daesh attacks inside Lebanon. They have also been providing assistance to Syrian army forces to counter the ongoing foreign-sponsored militancy.

The movement has accused Israel of supporting Takfiri terrorists operating in the Middle East.

Israel, which continues to occupy Lebanon’s Shebaa Farms and Syria’s Golan Heights, is widely reported to be offering medical help to Takfiri terrorists injured in Syria. In December 2015, British newspaper the Daily Mail said Israel had saved the lives of more than 2,000 Takfiri militants since 2013.