In front of the tight blockade under which the Arsal and Qalamoun militants are living, they have started a new tactic to launch attacks against Hezbollah related sites in an attempt to drain the resistance from either side; while Hezbollah have enrolled a qualitative weapon, unmanned aircrafts capable of bombing targets with accurate missiles.
It doesn’t appear in the horizon that the ongoing battles on the Arsal and Qalamoun outskirts are heading to an end, with the escalating negative repercussions day after day. The military option on the Lebanese side is very excluded until the moment, while the military operation against the militants is still ongoing on the Syrian side, which will eventually influence the battle’s path in the interest of both countries.
As the countdown starts for the arrival of the chilly winter in this region, the “al-Nusra” militants engaged during the last couple of days in a new tactic against Hezbollah and the Lebanese army; the tactic of explosive bombs one of which had targeted a Hezbollah guard point on a dusty path couple of nights ago, in the town of Khraibeh near Baalbek, not to mention that it was preceded by the Arsal bomb against a Lebanese army vehicle killing two soldiers. According to Lebanese security source for “al-Akhabar,” the new tactic “aims at decreasing pressure and tight blockade on them on the Qalamoun and Arsal outskirts through launching attacks on al-Qalamoun outskirts to drain the Syrian army and Hezbollah on the one hand, and start attacks against the Lebanese army and resistance related sites on the borders with Lebanon on the other hand.”
In this context, a video tape was leaked two days ago, showing an unmanned aircraft bombing some militants point in the Arsal outskirts. While some concerned Hezbollah sources avoided talking about the issue, the Lebanese security source noted that “this is a unique advancement, and this method will witness important repercussions on the happenings of the battle on the Arsal outskirts.” The notable point is that the Israeli enemy, who is following up the steps of Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria, was busy yesterday via the second channel of the Israeli TV airing the scenes of the reconnaissance plane bombing a missile towards the outskirts. Hebrew websites clamored for the leaked video, noting that the Israeli army knows that Iran owns two kinds of unmanned aircrafts that launch accurate missiles, and that it was expecting and aware that Hezbollah now has those kinds of aircrafts; “but it was the first time that Hezbollah uncovers using them.”
It is no more secret that the armed groups are in dire need of shelter and logistic base especially after leaving Arsal. The source notes that “the besieged militants were knocked down by leaving Arsal and losing their most important logistic base. While trucks loaded with food aid were daily entered, all such aids have stopped today.” Adding that “the return of al-Nusra to Arsal as it was before is now impossible, especially with the latest spread of the Lebanese army that hindered their progress at a time they are targeted in the Arsal outskirts by the Lebanese army and Hezbollah.”
Flita and Assal al-Ward in Qalamoun form the basic passage to Arsal, and are of a great importance for the militants who “want them as shelters during winter.” But this is impossible according to the same source. This also explains the several attacks they are conducting on the outskirts of both towns “whose some of their people are still masqueraded with the armed groups.” Furthermore, the Zabadani region, the only passageway from Qalamoun into Syria, is surrounded right now by the Syrian army, at a time when the militants are spread over the sides of the town, controlling one of its neighborhoods. In this context, the security source told “al-Akhbar” that the militants “launched last week an attack against the Jdeidet Yabous point on the border with Lebanon, in an attempt to break Beirut-Damascus highway.” Another Syrian field source noted that “he offered the militants exit and safe path to the desert northward, but they wanted to leave with their equipments and weapons, which was refused, especially that they would cause a gap somewhere else.”
In parallel, violent battles are taking place on one of the most critical hills in the eastern mountain range, the strategic Tallet Moussa hill, 2600 meters high from the sea, overlooking all Arsal outskirts from other spots, most of which are in northern and western Qalamoun. A field leader explains for “al-Akhbar” that “he who will gain Tallet Moussa today is the winner in the battle of Qalamoun and Arsal outskirts.” Acts of attack and retreat are taking place on this hill, and “controlling it will let us control all the outskirts, even those in Arsal, under fire.” This leader confesses that “the hill will overcome both parties in winter, because any of them could survive here in case the issue was not settled before.”
So, here we have two options. The first, which is “very improbable” according to a Lebanese security source, is represented by launching “wide military campaign by both Syrian and Lebanese parties through cooperation between the two countries, with Hezbollah intervention, but coordination is impossible, in addition to that the army’s decision is limited with the government.”
The second option, which is most likely to happen according to the same source, is that the military situation stays as it is, between ebbs and flows and attempts to control the hills. Today all the processes of the militants are over. They cannot enter booby-trapped cars to Lebanon, nor they can attack the Lebanese villages.” The source finally added that “the only change that would take place in some event obliges the militants to surrender and retreat, just like the Qatari influence on al-Nusra Front. But till now, Qatar has not played any positive role in this context, not even in the issue of the soldiers kidnapped by the terrorists.”
Translated by Zeinab Abdallah