A handout picture released by the Hezbollah press office on May 13, 2015, shows a Hezbollah fighter aiming his weapon on the Syrian side of the Qalamun hills close to the Lebanese borders. AFP PHOTO / HO / HEZBOLLAH PRESS OFFICE
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Hezbollah's seizure in a single day of Tallet Moussa, at 2,600 meters the highest point in Qalamoun, underlines the speed at which the party has made its gains since the offensive against Syrian rebel groups got off to a low-key start a week ago.These advances have left the rebels, mainly the Jaish al-Fatah-Qalamoun coalition, bottled up in the barren terrain stretching from Wadi Khayl, southeast of Arsal, to the mountains northeast of Ras Baalbek, where Hezbollah constructed over a year ago a defensive line of outposts that cross the border into Syria.It remains to be seen whether Hezbollah intends to finish off the rebels or will allow them the option of fleeing western Qalamoun through a corridor in its lines.As if Jaish al-Fatah-Qalamoun did not have enough on its hands battling Hezbollah, it has also found itself fighting the extremist ISIS group.Whether or not such an attack occurs depends perhaps on whether Hezbollah will allow the surviving militants to quietly flee Qalamoun or will prosecute the offensive to the end.
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