HERMEL, Lebanon: Hezbollah foiled Sunday an attempt by armed Syrian rebels to recapture a strategic hill on the border between Lebanon and Syria, a security source told The Daily Star.
The source explained that the hill was located between the mountainous outskirts of the Lebanese Baalbek village of Arsal and the Syrian town of Flita.
The news came as fierce clashes continued over the weekend along Lebanon’s northeastern border with Syria between Hezbollah and Nusra Front fighters, the source added.
Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency reported Sunday that a young Lebanese man Mohammad Omar Audeh was badly injured as a result of the clashes raging on the eastern mountain range.
Audeh, 20, was rushed to one of the hospitals in the Bekaa Valley region of Zahle.
Hundreds of refugees have taken shelter on Lebanon’s eastern mountain slope, posing grave problems to the country’s stability and security. Hezbollah says it is on a mission to wipe out the pockets of rebels in the mountains.
Media reports said Saturday that Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah’s nephew had been killed in Syria during battles with rebel opposition groups.
The resistance group issued a statement, saying Hamzah Yassine from the southern town of Abbasieh was killed while performing his “jihadist duty defending holy sites.”
Local media reports including Al-Mustaqbal newspaper said Yassine was the son of Nasrallah’s sister.
Hezbollah, alongside regime troops, have been engaged in fierce battles with rebel groups including the Nusra Front in Syria and along Lebanon’s border since May of last year, when the party announced its military role in the war-torn country.
Friday, a Syrian jet strike on the border with Lebanon killed around 20 Syrian rebel fighters, security sources told Reuters. The strike hit just inside Lebanese territory in a barren area east of the town of Arsal.
Syrian rebel fighters have frequently crossed into Arsal, a Sunni Muslim town where residents have often been sympathetic to fighters trying to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad, who is from Syria’s Alawite minority.
Earlier this month, security reports said that Syrian rebels had plans to launch a massive ground operation on Lebanese villages bordering Syria and kidnap dozens of men, to be used as a bargaining chip to secure the release of Islamist prisoners held at Roumieh prison.
Swiftly afterward, the Lebanese Army deployed at 100 new points in the Baalbek-Hermel villages of Al-Qaa, Ras Baalbek, Fakiha, Meqraq, Labweh, Swanieh, Nahleh, Younin, Maqneh, Bizalieh, Nabi Othman and Arsal.