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Hezbollah commander
killed in Qalamoun fighting

Pro-Hezbollah social media pages publicized mourning announcements for Ali Khalil Olyan.

Ali Khalil Olyan. (Twitter)

BEIRUT – A Hezbollah commander has reportedly been killed in the fierce fighting raging along the Lebanese border in Syria’s mountainous Qalamoun region.  

 

“At least four Hezbollah members, including a Hezbollah field commander, were killed during the clashes with [rebels] in Qalamoun,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Tuesday evening.

 

Pro-Hezbollah social media pages earlier Tuesday had publicized mourning announcements for Ali Khalil Olyan, who a number of Arabic-language media outlets identified as one of the party’s military commanders for the Qalamoun front.

 

Sky News Arabia cited armed Syrian opposition sources as saying that Olyan died in clashes that erupted after rebels attacked Lebanese border areas.

 

Meanwhile, An-Nahar reported that Hezbollah on Tuesday had responded to a rebel's Qalamoun offensive by attempting a sneak attack on insurgent positions near Assal al-Ward, a Syrian village that lies across the border from Lebanon’s Tfail.  

 

“Opposition fighters turned back this attack and killed a number of Hezbollah members, including one of its commanders,” sources told the Lebanese daily.

 

Hezbollah’s Al-Manar made no mention of Olyan’s death, but did report that Hezbollah had inflicted losses on the Al-Nusra Front outside the Lebanese border towns of Tfail and Brital.

 

“Five armored vehicles and 12 gunmen were killed in the confrontation,” sources told the station Tuesday afternoon.

 

The Qalamoun front—where Hezbollah was widely expected to launch a major military operation—has exploded after rebels on Monday launched a wide-scale preemptive attack on Hezbollah positions.

 

Rebels fighting Hezbollah in the border region on Tuesday officially announced the formation of an “Army of Conquest of Qalamoun” coalition meant to replicate the success of the Army of Conquest that turned back regime troops in Idlib.

 

The Army of Conquest of Qalamoun brings together the Cling to the Rope of God Gathering, Nusra, the FSA-affiliated Army of Qalamoun and Ahrar al-Sham.

 

The new rebel offensive comes amid a flurry of reports that Hezbollah will soon launch its widely-expected Qalamoun campaign in an effort to secure the remote mountainous terrain.

 

On Monday morning, pro-Hezbollah newspaper Al-Akhbar published a report stating that the party has drawn up an “airtight plan [for Qalamoun] and a large number of [troops have been gathered] compared to the previous battles Hezbollah entered on Syrian territory.”

 

Meanwhile, Al-Hayat on Sunday quoted Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who leads the Hezbollah-allied Amal Party, as saying that the Qalamoun battle would begin “very soon.”

 

Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah is slated to deliver a televised address on Tuesday evening during which he is expected to address the latest developments in the region. 

Ali Khalil Olyan. (Twitter)

Opposition fighters turned back this attack and killed a number of Hezbollah members, including one of its commanders.