Iran ally Hezbollah and Syrian regime troops joined forces to launch a successful offensive against al-Qaeda-led Syrian rebels in mountainous Qalamoun region along the Syria-Lebanon border, reports International Business Times (IBT).
On May 8, Al Jazeera reported that Syrian Dictator Bashar al-Assad was desperate for a victory against al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate Nusra Front and was depending on Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah to deliver it in the battle of Qalamoun.
“Forces aligned with the Syrian regime made major gains on Monday as the battle against al Qaeda’s Syrian branch continues on the border between Lebanon and Syria,” reports IBT. “The battle is likely to make major changes to the landscape of control in Syria and has now threatened to irreversibly drag Lebanon into the conflict.”
“Hezbollah and the Syrian army pushed out rebel fighters from a strategic hill in the Qalamoun border region on Monday,” it added. “Ras al Maara overlooks the Lebanese border and gives pro-regime forces access to other rebel strongholds in the area and control over a major rebel supply line that leads to the Damascus suburbs.”
Forces from the Christian village of Ras Baalbek in Lebanon’s northern Bekaa Valley have reportedly allied themselves with Hezbollah against the Nusra Front and the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL).
Volunteer Christian fighters were expected to support Hezbollah in the Qalamoun battle where Syrian rebel forces maintain a presence.
“On Monday in Syria, pro-regime forces seized the Ma’br al-Kharbah border crossing, effectively cutting off a rebel supply line that ran from the Damascus suburb town al Zabadani to the mountainous Qalamoun region,” notes the IBT article. “Because of the town’s proximity to the Lebanese border, rebels were believed to use the supply line to smuggle resources from Lebanon into Syria and vice versa.”
“Over the weekend, sources close to Lebanon’s armed political group Hezbollah claimed that the group raided one of the largest Nusra training camps in Al-Juba, a rugged and desolate region near the Lebanese border,” it adds.
Hezbollah has backed the Assad regime in their fight against Syrian opposition forces led by the Nusra Front in both Lebanon and Syria for the past week.
Both sides have suffered fatalities.
A U.S.-led coalition has been launching airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria since September of last year. The U.S. has begun training Syrian rebels to fight against ISIS.
However, American officials said that if the Assad regime troops attack the trained Syrian rebels, the U.S. has a responsibility to help them. The officials did not elaborate on what the help would entail.