Syrian army, Hezbollah advance against IS in western Qalamoun

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-20 06:06:19|Editor: yan
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DAMASCUS, Aug. 19 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian army and allied Hezbollah retook several areas from Islamic State (IS) militants in western Qalamoun on Saturday, a military source told Xinhua.

Just hours after launching their offensive against IS, the Syrian army and Hezbollah made notable gains in western Qalamoun near the Lebanese borders, capturing 87 sq km of the IS-controlled 150 sq km in the region.

A dozen of IS militants surrendered to the army and Hezbollah, the source said on condition of anonymity.

Dubbed "If You Return We Will Return," the operation, which aims to clear IS militants from the badlands of the western Qalamoun, came just a couple of weeks after they dislodged the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front from the same area and the adjacent Juroud Arsal barrens on the Lebanese side of the border.

In the last battle against Nusra, the Syrian army and Hezbollah were fighting on the Syrian side of the border, while other fighters of Hezbollah were fighting on the Lebanese side of it.

At the time, the Lebanese army wasn't engaged in the fight but took defensive positions in case of any attempt by the Nusra militants to carry out counter-attacks.

In this battle against the IS, Hezbollah and the Syrian army are fighting in Syria, while the Lebanese army is fighting IS in Lebanon.

Lebanese officials said there was no coordination between the Lebanese army and Hezbollah or the Syrian army.

The army in Lebanon will have to liberate around 120 sq km of land from IS, while the Syrian army and Hezbollah are fighting to defeat IS in 150 sq km of border terrain.