Lebanese military forces killed a leader from the ISIS terrorist organization on Thursday during an army operation in the country’s mountainous border region with Syria, Lebanon’s National News Agency and a security source said.
The officials and Lebanon’s National News Agency named the man as Nayif al-Shaalaan, who also went by the name Abu Fawz. Security sources identified him as ISIS’s leader in the area.
The operation took place in the area of Arsal in north Lebanon.
The 5-year-old conflict in the war-torn Syria has left Lebanon with repercussions to deal with. Fighting between ISIS and al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front militants often spills over Lebanon’s mountainous northern border with Syria.
The war has also increased tensions between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims in Lebanon, especially with Hezbollah- a Lebanon-based Shi’ite militant group and political party- sending thousands of militants over to Syria to back Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.
Lebanon has since then (2014) suffered from a sharp increase in terrorist attacks in Lebanon claimed by ISIS militants.
Fighters briefly overran Arsal in 2014 before withdrawing to the hills after clashes with the army, which stages regular operations against ISIS and Nusra Front in north Lebanon and along the border.
On 2 August 2014, after Lebanese security forces arrested an al-Nusra Front commander, fighters from al-Nusra Front and ISIS (also called ISIL) surrounded Lebanese Army checkpoints in Arsal before attacking them and storming the northeastern town’s police station, where they took at least 16 policemen as hostage. After intensified battling, a fragile truce was established as ISIL forces also retreated from the town and redeployed along the border with Syria. Their hideouts there were subsequently bombed by the Syrian Air Force, resulting in dozens of wounded militants. Two days later, the Lebanese Army entered Arsal in full force and re-established control over checkpoints that the militants had previously seized.