Al-Nusra and Islamic State join forces against Hizballah
Armed Islamist groups in eastern Lebanon have united to fight Hizballah, while outlining a deal between them to avoid conflict with the Lebanese army and Christians living in the area.
Al-Nusra Front, the Islamic State group (IS, formerly known as ISIS) and other local Islamic brigades signed the charter on Wednesday in the mountainous Qalamoun region of Syria, which borders Lebanon.
The agreement outlines how military operations will be conducted during attacks on Shia and Christian villages in the west Bekaa Valley, focusing on territory under Hizballah's control in the rugged Arsal and Brital areas.
|The charter calls for Hizballah's supporters to be targeted, and as many captured as possible.|
The charter calls for Hizballah's supporters to be targeted and captured, and only Christians who take up arms to be attacked. Additionally, measures must be taken to avoid conflict with the Lebanese army. When it does occur, soldiers should, where possible, be taken prisoner - rather than killed. A legal committee has also been formed to oversee the distribution of goods captured during IS and Nusra Front confrontations with Hizballah or the Lebanese army.
Signing the agreement were al-Nusra Front in Qalamoun, IS in Aleppo and Qalamoun, the al-Hasan bin Ali Brigades, the al-Ghuraba Brigade, the Abu Ali al-Shishani Group, the Waaiddo Brigade, the Turkman Brigade, the Qara Group, the al-Haq Brigade, and Dir al-Sharia.
The statement comes two months after the first military confrontations in Arsal between the al-Nusra Front and IS on one side, and Hizballah and the Lebanese Army on the other. During the fighting, the al-Nusra Front captured more than 30 Lebanese officers and soldiers. Negotiations for their release have focused on an exchange with Islamist prisoners held in the Lebanese government-run Roumieh prison.
The barren area of Qalamoun is the only place where al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State group have conducted joint operations, with coordinated attacks launched against Hizballah over the border in the Bekaa Valley - they continue to fight each other elsewhere in Syria.
With additional reporting by al-Araby al-Jadeed staff.
This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.