Hezbollah incurs losses
in Qalamoun advance

The Lebanese party has seized hills outside Assal al-Ward.

Pro-regime fighter in Qalamoun. (AFP/Sam Skaine)

BEIRUT – Hezbollah has secured areas in the mountainous Qalamoun border region following a rebel offensive earlier in the week, amid reports the party has lost dozens of fighters.


“Hezbollah, supported by the Syrian army and National Defense Forces, has taken control of hills in Assal al-Ward following intense clashes with the Al-Nusra Front,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Thursday.


The monitoring group said that the fighting came amid heavy artillery shelling, rocket strikes and aerial bombardment against rebel positions in the area.


Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television, in turn, touted that “the Syrian army and the resistance” had launched an attack against militants in the mountainous terrain around Assal al-Ward and Al-Jubbah in Qalamoun.


“They took control of the Al-Qorna elevation—a group of three hills where the militants had positions and bases,” the station said.


“The militants fled and their defenses collapsed, allowing the Syrian army and the mujahedeen of the resistance to take full control of 45 square kilometers of mountainous terrain around Assal al-Ward.”


Meanwhile, the rebel coalition Army of Conquest-Qalamoun announced on Twitter that it had “repulsed an attack” launched by Hezbollah from Tfail, a Lebanese town approximately 5 kilometers west of Syria’s Assal al-Ward.


“The heroes of Army of Conquest-Qalamoun repulsed an attack by [Hezbollah] from Tfail and dealt direct hits to their ranks,” the group said Thursday on Twitter.


“The crying of their wounded could be heard over the radio.”


The rebel coalition also claimed that it had stopped a flanking attack by Hezbollah from the Lebanese border village of Nahle, which lies approximately 25 kilometers north of Assal al-Ward.


According to the post, Hezbollah’s attack was carried out “while the Army of Conquest-Qalamoun’s Mujahedeen were busy liberating their villages in the Syrian interior.”


The Hezbollah advance into the hills around Assal al-Ward comes after rebels attacked the area between the border town and nearby Al-Jubbah earlier in the week.


Rebels control the mountainous areas around Assal al-Ward and Al-Jubbah, from where they have launched attacks against the Shiite party’s positions.


Hezbollah loses dozens


The Lebanese militant party has suffered heavy casualties since the rebel coalition Army of Conquest-Qalamoun launched a preemptive offensive against it on Monday.


Alaraby Aljadeed reported Thursday that Hezbollah has lost dozens of troops in the fierce fighting along the western slopes of the Qalamoun Mountains.


“Total Hezbollah fatalities from three days of fighting have exceeded 40 fatalities,” media activist Abu Ahmad al-Qalamouni told the London-based daily.


“The party’s members were calling each other, yesterday, over the radio, to regroup and pull out the bodies.”


Other Arabic-language media outlets, including Sky News Arabia, reported a similarly high death toll for Hezbollah in the fighting.


On Tuesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that at least 5 Hezbollah members had been killed, with the party admitting similar numbers, while more recent Observatory articles have noted further casualties without going into details. 

Hezbollah has reportedly lost dozens of casualties in Qalamoun fighting. (AFP/Sam Skaine)

e party’s members were calling each other, yesterday, over the radio, to regroup and pull out the bodies.