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Political Cover for Army Operations Against ISIS at Eastern Border | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Militants of al-Nusra Front burned sites they used to occupy on the outskirts of Arsal, as 33 buses reached the area to transport gunmen and their families to Syria/NNA

Beirut- The Lebanese authorities offered the Army a complete cover to conduct military operations in Jurud Arsal against ISIS after completing the second phase of a deal between “Hezbollah” and “al-Nusra Front,” deporting all the organization’s militants to Idlib in Syria.

“The Lebanese Army was offered the complete political cover to liberate the land from the ISIS terrorist organization,” official sources told Asharq Al-Awsat on Thursday.

The sources said that the timing of the next military operation is linked to the fate of the nine Lebanese soldiers kidnapped by ISIS.

Another military source told the newspaper that “all military options were open for the liberation of the land,” adding that the army was intensifying its military measures mainly at the eastern border of the country.

Meanwhile, Al-Hurra TV channel reported that 70 members of the US Special Forces were currently in Lebanon to assist the Army in its military operations against ISIS.

However, military sources denied the reports.

“Those US soldiers have been present in Lebanon to monitor the US military aid delivered to the Army,” the sources told Asharq Al-Awsat, adding that none of them would participate in the upcoming operation against ISIS.

Also on Thursday, Prime Minister Saad Hariri said that Lebanon would open the door of negotiation with ISIS if such a move would help the kidnapped soldiers.

Meanwhile, observers said any deals or military confrontation with ISIS would be more difficult than the deal and battle against Nusra, particularly that the terrorist organization is already positioned in difficult-to-reach locations. Also, ISIS militants fight on the basis of “either kill or be killed,” making it hard for the army to fight them.

On the battlefield, the Lebanese army shelled on Thursday ISIS positions in the outskirts of Ras Baalbek and Qaa, Lebanon’s NNA said.

Also, the army began a new deployment operation in the eastern chain in the outskirts of Arsal, introducing a number of tanks and improvising new posts on hilltops.