BEIRUT: The Lebanese launched 'Fajr al-Joroud' (Dawn of the Outskirts) operation against Daesh (ISIS) positions on the outskirts of al-Qaa and Ras Baalbek towns Saturday.
The following is a live update on the offensive:
During the first day of fighting, 20 Daesh militants were killed and 10 Lebanese Army soldiers were wounded, one critically, senior military official Nazih Joreige disclosed during a briefing to update the media on the day's fighting.
Joreige added that so far 30 kilometers of territory had been recaptured from the militant group, including 11 Daesh positions.
At least two Lebanese Army soldiers have been wounded in the morning's offensive a security source told The Daily Star.
A convoy of General Security and the Red Cross ambulances are traveling to the outskirts of Arsal to investigate possible grave sites after Daesh fighters captured by Hezbollah in Syria disclosed information regarding a number of bodies, a security source told The Daily Star.
Fighting may be paused to allow the teams to investigate the site.
Convoy carrying personel from the Army, General Security and Red Cross drives to Arsal town on mystery mission. Speculation rife trip may be linked to the fate of nine soldiers kidnapped by Daesh. Officials refusing to comment.
Bekaa Governor Antoine Sleiman urges in a statement municipalities in the area to be on standby, ready for action in case of any emergencies. He also called on them to report any suspicious security threats to the army.
Army statement says sappers defusing mines and booby-traps to clear the way for military units to capture two key hills in the battlefield.
Army helicopters attack Daesh targets in the area.
After a brief lull, Army artillery resumes pounding Daesh posts east of Ras Baalbek.
Military source says "the process of taking control of (militant) posts is proceeding according to plan."
Army units advancing towards eastern Daesh hilltop positions, a security source told The Daily Star.
Army spokesperson: Victory is 100 percent assured in offensive, no matter how long it takes and no matter the cost.
Army spokesperson: Lebanese Army has no direct or indirect coordination with Hezbollah or Syrian military in offensive. No timetable, no schedule, no time limit for the military offensive, Army to keep pushing to Syrian border.
Military spokesperson tells news conference Army offensive to continue until Daesh expelled from Lebanese territory.
The state-run National News Agency reported that Army artillery scored direct hits on Daesh units.
Hezbollah's War Media Center announces that Hezbollah and the Syrian army have made advances into Daesh territories on the Syrian side of the border.
Progressive Socialist Party head MP Walid Jumblatt wished the Army a speedy victory in a message on Twitter, saying their battle was "for the safety of Lebanon and its democratic system."
Lebanese Red Cross Secretary-General George Kataneh announces that between 175 and 185 volunteer medics are on standby to provide medical assistance should the need arise, and are deployed between Ras Baalbek and Arsal.
Army continues intense bombardment of Daesh positions.
Aoun calls the commander on the ground to congratulate the Army offensive and told him “we await the victory.”
Al-Qaa Mayor Bashir Matar announces that a blood bank will be set up in the town in cooperation with the Lebanese Red Cross to help any wounded soldiers. He added that the “locals will support the Army with all possible means."
President Michel Aoun arrives at the Defense Ministry in Yarzeh to follow up on operations.
Hezbollah announces assault with Syrian regime forces against Daesh on the border inside Syria.
Army helicopters, artillery, and rocket launchers pound Daesh positions on the outskirts of Ras Baalbek.
Lebanese Army Commander Gen. Joseph Aoun in a statement announces the launch of an offensive to liberate the outskirts of Al-Qaa and Ras Baalbek from the Daesh.
"In the name of Lebanon, the abducted soldiers and the blood of the martyrs, and in the name of the heroes of the great Lebanese Army [we] declare the launch of 'Fajr al-Joroud Operation' in the outskirts of Ras Baalbek and al-Qaa [towns]."