The Lebanese Army is facing an imminent terrorist battle, Hezbollah deputy chief Sheikh Naim Qassem said Thursday, after the Army waged pre-emptive attacks on militant positions along the border with Syria.
Qassem warned that Syria-based jihadi groups were gearing up for a major offensive deep into Lebanese territory when the winter ends next month.
“Lebanon must study its options well because this project targets all of Lebanon,” he added.
In its pre-emptive offensive Thursday dawn, the Army pushed out jihadi militants from two hilltop positions, seizing explosives and unexploded projectiles.
Most of the militants, believed to be affiliated with ISIS, apparently retreated after the offensive, which was backed by artillery bombardment.
Hours after the operation, an officer and four troops suffered light to moderate wounds when a rocket fired by militants crashed near their vehicle on the outskirts of the northeastern border town of Ras Baalbek.
In a statement released Thursday, Qassem said the “Army, people, and resistance” formula guaranteed Lebanon’s ability to confront the terrorist threat.
The Army’s policy of pre-emptive shelling was put in place after eight soldiers were killed and 22 other soldiers wounded in fierce clashes with ISIS militants on the edge of Ras Baalbek late last month.
That was the most serious attack since ISIS and Nusra Front militants fought a five-day battle with the Army in the northeastern town of Arsal in August. The two militant groups are still holding 25 soldiers and policemen hostage on Arsal’s outskirts after originally taking more than 37 hostages. Four were killed, while eight others were released.