The Lebanese Army continue its preparations for the anticipated battle with ISIS, in Ras Baalbek and al-Qaa where the army intensified bombardment and deployed forces and equipment.
It has been rumored that the land-battle will be launched within the upcoming hours – military sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Hezbollah handed out some sites to the army.
Sources also denied the commencement of the battle, “what occurred in the past hours is an advancement of the army towards hills outlooking the region where ISIS members are sheltering, but no clashes occurred.”
According to Lebanon’s National News Agency (NNA), “The shelling with heavy artillery has destroyed a number of tanks and fortifications, amid the reinforcement of positions in Arsal Mountains to prevent any infiltration of terrorists.”
Head of Arsal Municipality Basel al-Hujairi noted that the residents of Arsal did not yet receive access to their lands which were occupied by Jabhat al-Nusra, but he added that the Lebanese Army is in charge of the matter.
“Hezbollah has expressed willingness to hand out these lands to the Army and their owners but it seems that some procedures must be taken first,” Hujairi added.
“However the miserable economic condition makes the residents in a rush to restore their lands so that they can invest them and operate their factories,” he continued.
Until this moment, ISIS shows no intention to hold negotiations to depart from the region or to disclose the destiny of the nine Lebanese soldiers captives – since 2014. However, experts said that ISIS would likely negotiate after the military battle is launched.
Riad Kahwaji, INEGMA's Founder and Chief Executive Officer, stated that the army depends on “a specific strategy in dealing with ISIS through exerting pressure and exasperating it, which might push ISIS at the end to refuge to negotiations.”