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Spotlight: IS group beaten heavily in Syria's Qalamoun mountains
BY 2017-08-24 09:49:35

by Hummam Sheikh Ali

QARA, Syria, Aug. 23 (Xinhua) -- The Lebanese Hezbollah group and Syrian army are dealing heavy blow to the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria's Qalamoun region near Lebanon to end the presence of the terror-designated group in the border region between both countries.

Just a couple of weeks after dislodging the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front from the Fleita barrens in western Qalamoun region, Hezbollah and the Syrian army went on with a wide-scale offensive to eliminate IS from the Qara and Jarajir badlands in Qalamoun.

Both battles took place on the Lebanese and Syrian sides of the borders, as such mountainous, rugged terrains between Lebanon and Syria are entwined with one another.

The current battle against IS, however, is different than the previous one with al-Qaida-linked groups, as a deal was reached for the evacuation of Syrian Nusra Front militants from Lebanon toward rebel-held areas in Idlib province in northwestern Syria earlier this month.

This time the IS militants will have no choice but to fight till the end or surrender, as there are no truces on the horizon akin to what happened with the Nusra militants.

One soldier told Xinhua on condition of anonymity that IS militants will either die or surrender in Qalamoun.

Another officer said ending IS presence in the border region is important for Syria and Lebanon.

"The battle against IS in the barrens of Qara and Jarajir is part of the bigger battle against the terror group in Syria," he told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

He added that it's an important achievement in Qara as it will further secure the perimeter around the capital Damascus, which is only 100 km northwest of Damascus and within the administrative borders of the Damascus countryside.

Qara has also a residential part, where civilians are still there despite the battles that have flared in the barrens of that area.

Hezbollah and the army have already taken very strategic hilltops and heights in the barrens of Qara and the adjacent Jarajir barrens and are heavily shelling the IS positions as IS has become almost besieged there.

It was strange at first sight when looking to such badlands and how the IS militants were stationing there with their families as no water or any source of food is located.

But the area is strategic, soldiers said, due to its proximity to Lebanon and Damascus.

At one mountain top in Qara, around six artilleries and tanks were stationed, bombing the areas of IS with smoke rising from the opposite side when the shell lands.

Airstrikes were also backing the ground forces of Hezbollah in their push to eliminate IS in that region, which is considered as tough battles due to the geographic nature of the area and the fact that its open with no place to hide.

Many IS militants have surrendered themselves since Aug. 19 when the battle against them in the barrens of Qara started.

And when the barrens of Qara are cleared, the entire borderline with Lebanon will be secured and back under the government control.

Little white tents of Hezbollah were seen in the slops of the mountains, as the group setup such tents whenever they advance and place fighters there.

At the road to the barrens, a giant poster of Hezbollah leader sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, with one of his famous statements "we will be whenever we have to be."

Hezbollah has played a very important role in the battle against the terror-designated groups and other radical rebels in Syria since they stepped in to back the government forces in 2013.

The precision and accuracy as well as the organized nature of Hezbollah have made it very good in the guerrilla warfare against the rebels, experts say.

The group is heavily backed by Iran, a main ally of the Syrian government, and its presence is essential to back up the Syrian army in its fight against the foreign-backed rebels.

(Editor:Li Zhaoqi) (From:xinhua)
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