Al Qaeda Affiliate Battles Hezbollah in Lebanon
5 October 2014
At least 16 insurgents from the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s wing in Syria, were killed in clashes with the Shiite group Hezbollahin eastern Lebanon on Sunday as the Nusra Front launched a major offensive, a person close to Hezbollah said.
Hundreds of Sunni Muslim insurgents from the Nusra Front attacked at least 10 Hezbollah bases along a mountain range close to the Syrian border, and killed two Hezbollah fighters, in the latest spillover of violence from the civil war next door in Syria.
“There are at least 16 dead from Nusra Front,” the person said. “Fighters from Hezbollah in the Bekaa region are joining the areas where the clashes are,” he added, referring to the region stretching across eastern Lebanon.
Hezbollah called on its fighters to defend the area, the person close to Hezbollah and other security officials said.
Hezbollah’s al-Manar television reported late Sunday that the group had pushed the insurgents back over the border and that the clashes had ended. The security officials said fighters from the Islamic State, another insurgent group based in Syria, were also involved in the clashes, but the person close to Hezbollah said only Nusra Front appeared to have taken part.
Armed with mortars and rocket-propelled grenades, the insurgents attacked a large area stretching from south of the town of Baalbek to areas close to the border town of Arsal. The Lebanese Army stayed out of the fighting, but has also battled insurgents in the area.
The Sunni insurgents view Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran, as one of their chief foes. Hezbollah fighters have been aiding President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian civil war, battling Islamist groups like the Nusra Front and Islamic State, which has seized territory in Syria and Iraq.
Violence from Syria has often spread into Arsal and surrounding areas, which are also trying to deal with tens of thousands of Syrian refugees.
In August, fighters with the Islamic State and the Nusra Front stormed Arsal, killing at least 10 members of the Lebanese military and capturing more than a dozen others. They have since killed at least three of the captive soldiers and are holding an unknown number of others.
Featured Image: The al-Nusra Front has gained considerable strength during the three-year long civil war in Syria. Copyright 2014, Getty Images
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