Hezbollah leader vows Islamic State defeat in Syria and Lebanon



BEIRUT, Weedah Hamzah (dpa) - Hezbollah leader Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah said Friday that Islamic State will be defeated in Syria and Lebanon and that his movement will attack the extremist group alongside the Syrian army on the other side of the border.
The Lebanese army was, in the coming days, preparing to fight Islamic State and clear it from its positions on the outskirts of the border towns of al-Qaa and Ras Baalbek in north-eastern Lebanon, said Nasrallah.



Addressing Islamic State militants holed up in the north-east, he said there was still time to "negotiate and surrender."
His televised speech came a day after Lebanon's Shiite Islamist militia completed a swap deal with Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, al-Qaeda's branch in Syria, during which more than 1,000 militants as well as Syrian refugees were allowed to leave north-eastern Lebanon for Idlib in north-western Syria.
In exchange, Jabhat Fatah al-Sham released five Hezbollah prisoners who were captured in Syria in 2015.
The deal was part of a ceasefire agreement which ended six days of fighting in the Arsal border area between Hezbollah and Jabhat Fatah al-Sham.
Last week, Hezbollah, in coordination with the Syrian army, had launched an offensive to clear fighters from an area on the Syria-Lebanon frontier.
The operation targeted fighters on the outskirts of the Lebanese town of Arsal and in areas of the western Qalamoun mountains in Syria.
Islamic State has nine Lebanese soldiers in captivity who were taken during clashes with the Lebanese army in 2014 in the north-east.
Hezbollah is an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and is fighting alongside his forces against rebels seeking to topple him.
Earlier in the day, a blast killed two people at the headquarters of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham in the western countryside of Aleppo, a monitoring group said.
Hayat Tahrir al-Sham is an alliance led by Jabhat Fatah al-Sham.
According to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a car bomb went off in Reef al-Mouhandiseen, and initial reports said two members of the group were killed.
Hayat Tahrir al-Sham controls 70 per cent of Idlib province as well as some areas in the western countryside of Aleppo.
Last month, it was engaged in bloody battles in Idlib and near a crossing between Syria and Turkey with its rival rebel group Ahrar al-Sham.
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Sunday, August 6th 2017
Weedah Hamzah
           


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