Hizbullah Fighters Escort Journalists on Tour of Qalamoun Mountains

  • W460
  • W460
  • W460
  • W460

In the pockets of the rugged mountains near the Lebanese border, the distinctive yellow flag of Hizbullah now flies where al-Qaida militants once held sway.

These gains in the Qalamoun Mountains represent a bright spot for embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad's government, now reeling from a unified insurgent assault in the country's northwest. And again, they show the influence of the Lebanese group in Syria's civil war, grinding on into its fifth year after more than 220,000 people were killed.

A team of Associated Press journalists traveling with Hizbullah into Syria found smiling Hizbullah fighters proudly showing newly dismantled booby traps and food quickly left behind by the Islamist insurgents as commanders promised further advances they say protect Lebanon.

The Qalamoun Mountains are on the Syrian side of the border with Lebanon. They tower near Syria's capital, Damascus, and link that base of Assad's power to the coast, an enclave of his Alawite sect, an off-shoot of Shiite Islam.

But the Sunni militants of the local al-Qaida chapter called al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State group have been dug into the terrain for years.

Although Hizbullah officials say a full-blown assault to recover Qalamoun hasn't started, Hizbullah fighters in recent days have captured large areas and strategic hills. On Thursday, Hizbullah fighters attacking from the fields of the Syrian border town of Assal al-Ward met comrades on the offensive from the outskirts of the Lebanese village of Brital.

"The situation is better than perfect," one smiling Hizbullah fighter said, speaking along with others anonymously as part of the conditions Hizbullah set to allow AP journalists to make the trip.

Insurgents appear to have left their camps in a hurry. Groceries, medicines and other supplies littered their camps. At a Hizbullah position, fighters installed a 130 mm cannon pointed deeper into Syria. Wooden ammunition boxes nearby bore Persian words -- a sign of the support of Iran, a major benefactor of both Hizbullah and Assad.

Shelling could be heard in the distance, which Hizbullah fighters attributed to clashes around Syria's Barouh mountain to the north. Two giant Hizbullah bulldozers ground out a sand road on one of the region's mountains.

Some 3,000 militants are in the Qalamoun region, almost equally split between the al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State group, a Hizbullah commander recently said in Beirut. He said Hizbullah and Syrian troops surround the Qalamoun from the north, the east and the south, as well as part of the west, squeezing the Islamic militants who remain.

The total area of the Qalamoun being contested is about 1,000 square kilometers (386 square miles) — of which 340 square kilometers (131 square miles) lie in Lebanon and are under militants' control.

Hizbullah cites that fear of militants sweeping through Shiite and Christian villages in diverse Lebanon as one of the main reasons for their involvement in Syria.

"We are giving our blood so that people (in Lebanon) live with dignity and safety," Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah recently said.

But analysts say the fight is not expected to have immediate military repercussions in Lebanon — though it directly affects Assad's survival and Hizbullah's reputation.

Some observers however fear the Qalamoun offensive could prompt Islamist militants to launch attacks in Shiite areas of Lebanon itself, including Beirut's southern suburbs.

A wave of bombings targeting Hizbullah strongholds in 2013 and 2014 left scores of people dead and wounded. Already, residents in a southern Beirut stronghold of Hizbullah say security has been tightened in the area, with officials searching cars and checking identification papers.

Comments 24
Thumb ex-fpm 10 May 2015, 21:25

nice publicity stunt by the terror party:) Their ally ISIS today engaged in fierce battles with the rebels in Qalamoun in support of the regime and the terror party.

Thumb freedomarch 10 May 2015, 23:41

Oh no no no, since the accomplished the ultimate victory, just go home and sit back and relax, we welcome you back home for good, please just let the army do the job of protecting.

Thumb kanaandian 10 May 2015, 22:03

keep dropping the terrorist pedophile head chopping man eating scum.
bravo mabrouk takbeer

Thumb Mystic 11 May 2015, 01:47

Heroic men, once again showing off their greatness by removing the takfiri scourge away from Lebanon.

Thumb ashtah 11 May 2015, 08:35


Thumb cedar 11 May 2015, 05:09

I agree this is a publicity stunt. However Hezbollah is doing a very good job strategically and assisting the Lebanese Army by taking the battle away from the borders, something the army can't do. So from a military strategic level its great.

Thumb Mystic 11 May 2015, 08:53

Yes well, if the Resistance weren't over there now, then the LAF positions would be overrun from all side by the takfiri groups.

Thumb ashtah 11 May 2015, 08:37

أعلن جيش الفتح في القلمون عبر موقعه على تويتر أنه قتل 18 عنصرا من “حزب الله”، بعد تسللهم من جرود نحلة اللبنانية باتجاه القلمون السوري.
وعرف من قتلى الحزب حتى الآن: ذو لفقار حسن سليمان الملقب بأبا زهراء، صلاح مهدي الرشعيني من الهرمل، محمد حمزة الحاج دياب من شمسطار البقاعية، حسين محمد جواد موسى من بلدة عيترون الحدودية الجنوبية، وحسين قاسم أحمد من بلدة زلايا البقاعية. كما شيع سابقا كلا من: محمد الحاج حسن من حوش النبي في البقاع، حمزة عمار من الطيري في الجنوب، علي بكري من صديقين قضاء صور وفضل فقيه من كفركلا الحدودية.

Thumb marcus 11 May 2015, 09:23

it is a Facebook divine victory.

Thumb Mystic 11 May 2015, 08:51

Meanwhile your beloved Israelites are providing Al Nusra medical attention and safety in Golan, so your crap doesn't quite hold.

Thumb Mystic 11 May 2015, 11:46

Yeah you write alotta crap without facts. What do you call this genius?


IDF women medics saving the lives of takfiris on open screen, yet takfiri supporters keeps insisting otherwise.

Thumb Mystic 11 May 2015, 11:51

Israel are even proud of their help to the takfiris. So what are we going to believe? You or facts.


Missing peace 11 May 2015, 18:37

Aoun: "Hezbollah is collaborating with Israel to legitimize Israel's use of destructive force [against Lebanon]"
-An-Nahar 4 February 2002

Thumb Mystic 11 May 2015, 12:05

Can you explain something to us all? How come Israel never fired a bullet towards ISIS and Al Nusra?

Thumb Mystic 11 May 2015, 12:39

M14 are in turmoil true, they can't do anything to stop the Resistance in countering these takfiris, that's what hurts them the most.

Thumb Mystic 11 May 2015, 12:42

So if the Resistance didn't intervene, you expect the takfiris to leave Lebanon alone? This is exactly why they went to Syria in the first place, to save the Army and people from being overrun. There is 3000 takfiris or more in Qalamoun, that is not a small number, they are under siege now. If that siege was lifted, then the Bekaa Valley would be Da3ish land by now. Maybe that is what M14 wanted all along?

Thumb Mystic 11 May 2015, 12:47

The Brother sunnah are the ones fighting the takfiris and Israel, not the ones you love that beheads babies and plays football with their heads. I doubt you ever supported the Resistance, you were probaly amongst the Mostaqbal people that hoped for Israel to finish it's job in 2006.

Thumb Mystic 11 May 2015, 13:59

I doubt any sane person, would consider you a brother.

Thumb Mystic 11 May 2015, 13:07

Your report mentions "Mamlouk had been communicating with Turkish intelligence through an intermediary," said a senior regime source with direct knowledge of the plan.

Good thing Assad is cleaning house then.

Thumb Mystic 11 May 2015, 14:21

Aslong as March 14 people detest me, then I know I am on the right track.

Thank you very much.

Thumb Mystic 11 May 2015, 16:04

Don't panic girls, everything is perfect read above.

"In the pockets of the rugged mountains near the Lebanese border, the distinctive yellow flag of Hizbullah now flies where al-Qaida militants once held sway."

Thumb EagleDawn 11 May 2015, 16:14

ميليشيا حزب الله تعترف بفقدان الاتصال بثمانية من عناصرها في جرود الجبة بالقلمون
teeeeeheeeeeeheeeee:D I hope they did not lose their way to hell;))

Thumb EagleDawn 11 May 2015, 16:34

this news is just moments ago. These sectarian terrorists were protecting "the distinctive yellow flag of Hizbullah" as mystic said:)
On a serious note, these sectarians were reduced to waste when the rebels attacked them hours ago near fleita.

Thumb ansarullah 11 May 2015, 17:04

Allah y2awe shi3et Ali