Lebanese Army Secures Swift Gains against Daesh
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The Lebanese Army secured quick gains and rapid advances against Daesh (ISIL or ISIS) during the first day of its long-awaited offensive against the Takfiri group entrenched on the Lebanese-Syrian border Saturday.
A military spokesperson, Nazih Jorieje, said that the Army liberated 30 kilometers squared from Daesh, capturing 11 militant positions in the process.
He added that so far 20 Daesh gunmen had been killed during the first day while 10 Army soldiers had been wounded, including one critically, The Daily Star reported.
Earlier in the day, a convoy traveled to the outskirts of Arsal Saturday afternoon to investigate possible grave sites after captured Daesh militants disclosed their locations hours after the start of a major Lebanese Army offensive near the border. As of late afternoon, local sources said the convoy was still in Arsal.
The offensive on Daesh started with a hail of Army artillery and rocket fire around dawn Saturday, moments after the head of the military announced the start of the campaign to rid the country of militant groups.
"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 the 'Fajr al-Joroud Operation' in the outskirts of the Ras Baalbek and Al-Qaa (towns)," Army commander Gen. Joseph Aoun said, announcing the start of the offensive in a tweet at 5 a.m.
Daesh, which has carried out several suicide bombing attacks in Lebanon since 2014, controls some 140 square kilometers in the outskirts of Ras Baalbek and Al-Qaa in the northeastern corner of the country. It also maintains a similar enclave on the Syrian side of the border.
The Army has been pounding Daesh positions using a modern array of equipment and armaments provided by the United States. Thousands of Army units have been taking positions in the area in the build-up to the battle.The Army’s advance is expected to be slow, as security sources had told The Daily Star that the military would adopt a doctrine of bombarding enemy positions before advancing slowly on the ground.
Daesh and Nusra Front militants captured over 30 soldiers and policemen when they briefly overran the nearby town of Arsal in August 2014. Most were released but nine soldiers are believed to still be held captive by Daesh.