THE BATTLE OF QALAMOUN LATEST: Syrian army, Hezbollah seize 5 strategic hills in Qalamoun – THE DAILY STAR, Lebanon

by NewsStand

BEIRUT/BAALBEK: They Syrian army and Hezbollah regained control over a large area in Syria’s Qalamoun near Lebanon’s borders Thursday, in clashes that killed and wounded dozens of jihadis, security sources said.

According to the sources, Hezbollah and Syrian army troops seized five “strategic hills” in the eastern part of Qalamoun, establishing control over the towns of Assal al-Ward and Al-Juba.

The Islamist militants, 23 of whom were reportedly wounded in Thursday’s morning clashes, had seized the two towns in previous battles.

The area is located around 35 kilometers from the northeastern Lebanese border town of Arsal.

Security sources said the militants, led by the Al-Qaeda affiliated Nusra Front, clashed with Hezbollah-backed Syrian troops along several combat zones, including the Assal al-Ward-Juba front.

According to the sources, Syrian warplanes also carried out a series of air raids on militant positions in Qalamoun, killing and wounding dozens of jihadi fighters.

Meanwhile, a Hezbollah attack in the Qalamoun border region killed three Islamist commanders Wednesday, according to the Hezbollah’s channel Al-Manar TV.

Al-Manar wrote on its Twitter account that the Nusra Front commander in the town of Al-Juba, the leader of as-Suqur al-Muhammadiyya Brigade and the commander of the Ras al-Maarra operation were all killed in a mortar attack.

The report said Hezbollah targeted “a gathering of militant commanders and military vehicles.”

Wednesday’s attack came one day after a Hezbollah ambush on a Nusra convoy killed at least 15 fighters on the outskirts of the Lebanese border enclave of Tfail, a security source told The Daily Star.

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