BEIRUT: Skirmishes broke out Tuesday evening near Arsal between Hezbollah and militant groups, security sources said.
Hezbollah initiated the exchanges in what one source said was “probing [the militant positions] with fire” ahead of an imminent large-scale offensive to dislodge the militant groups around Arsal.
The source said this was not the outbreak of the large-scale offense.
Hezbollah launched rockets and missiles at positions in the rugged outskirts of Arsal where militants form Daesh (ISIS), Jabhat Fatah al-Sham – formerly the Nusra Front – and Free Syrian Army groups have been entrenched for over three years.
The clashes come one week after Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah warned that it was time to end the threat posed by militant groups entrenched in the area.
Last week The Daily Star learned that the order to conduct the offensive had been signed and field commanders had the go ahead to launch the operation when they saw fit.
Syrian warplanes launched several strikes against militant posts on the border with Lebanon Tuesday morning, in what security sources said where a prelude to a large-scale offensive by Hezbollah fighters to capture the area.
Security sources previously told The Daily Star that negotiations between the rival factions to unify in the face of the looming Hezbollah offensive had failed. The source added that Saraya Ahl al-Sham was the only group that proved responsive to efforts to find a peaceful solution.