Lebanon’s army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi has declared an open-ended war with Islamist militants on the Syria border after seven soldiers were killed in recent attacks.
“Our battle with terrorism and terrorists is an open-ended war, and we expect it to be a war of attrition, especially after we penetrated deep into the outskirts and remote zones,” Kahwagi said in comments published Thursday by local daily An-Nahar.
Kahwagi indicated that Islamist extremist groups – ISIS and Nusra Front – had been shaken up by the army’s “pre-emptive strikes.”
“It the terrorists are now responding to the army’s pre-emptive strikes against them, these strikes were many and there will be more and consistent pre-emptive strikes,” Kahwagi warned the jihadists.
Kahwagi, however, evaded a direct response when asked whether the militants’ recent deadly attacks against the Lebanese army were linked to the arrest of Saja Dulaimi, the ex-wife of ISIS leader Abu Bakr Baghdadi.
"The woman was arrested 15 days ago after intense monitoring that began two months ago; and our goal was to confirm her identity."
Kahwagi also would not link recent attacks against the army in northeast Lebanon to Dulaimi’s detention.
"Terrorist organizations are not a classical army and we except everything from this enemy,” he said, adding that the army had dealt several hard blows to jihadists.
Kahwagi vowed that the army strikes against extremist militants will continue “until they are defeated no matter how long.”
“We are not weak at all. We are strong. We are troopers. For each blow we receive we respond with 100 blows. We will defeat them no matter the sacrifices.”
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