Army commander General Joseph Aoun takes a tour in Tfail and Baalbek, Wednesday, July 19, 2017. (The Daily Star/Lebanese Army, HO)
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The Syrian air force intensified airstrikes on militants entrenched on the outskirts of Arsal Wednesday, as the launch of a Hezbollah offensive against the fighters edged ever closer. Meanwhile, Lebanese Army Commander Gen. Joseph Aoun inspected Army positions around Tfail, near Arsal on the northeastern Lebanese border. According to Hujeiri, the Army has maintained a presence of a few thousand soldiers in Arsal since it was briefly overrun by Daesh (ISIS) and what was then called the Nusra Front, in 2014, in the worst spillover from the neighboring Syrian conflict to date.A source close to Free Syrian Army affiliated Saraya Ahl al-Sham said that the Syrian air force launched 18 strikes on militant positions entrenched in the outskirts of Arsal Wednesday.Airstrikes by the Syrian air force a day earlier killed four militants for Jabhat Fatah al-Sham – formerly known as the Nusra Front – another security source added. As Syria conducts airstrikes from above, the Army has taken a defensive position, while Hezbollah has reportedly negotiated with the rebels in order to ease the losses of the expected battle. Hujeiri released a statement addressing the residents of Arsal, the Army, Syrian refugees in the area and militant groups on Arsal's outskirts.
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