Lebanon army announces start of anti-IS border offensive

Lebanon army announces start of anti-IS border offensive
The US-backed Lebanese military has announced the beginning of an assault against Islamic State group, seeking to end a years-long threat posed to the Syrian border area by the extremists.
2 min read
19 August, 2017

The Lebanese army announced on Saturday the start of an offensive against the Islamic State (IS) group close to the Syrian border in the east of the country.

"In the name of Lebanon, in the name of kidnapped Lebanese soldiers, in the name of martyrs of the army, I announce that (this) operation.... has started," said army chief General Joseph Aoun.

The Lebanese army has been preparing an attack on IS-held areas for weeks near the border with Syria, sending in reinforcements and pounding the area with artillery shells and rockets. 

The Syrian army and Hizballah are also preparing for a simultaneous attack on IS on the Syrian side of the border.

The US has supplied the Lebanese military with Bradley fighting vehicles, Cessna aircraft that discharge Hellfire missiles, helicopters, anti-tank missiles, artillery and radars, as well as training. 

Earlier this month, a US defence department spokesman revealed the presence of American special forces in Lebanon, providing training and logistical support for the army ahead of the anti-IS offensive.

The years-long presence of extremists in the border area has brought suffering to neighboring towns and villages, from shelling, to kidnappings of villagers for ransom. Car bombs made in the area and sent to other parts of the country, including the Lebanese capital, Beirut, have killed scores of citizens.