WEST KURDISTAN (SYRIA) MESOP Report: Thousands of Hizbullah Fighters Engaging in Qalamoun Battle / by Naharnet 15 May 2015 –

 Thousands of Hizbullah fighters are engaged in the battle in the Syrian region of Qalamoun as the party’s leadership is seeking to boost its capabilities and improve its performance to control the area along with the Syrian Army forces.“Thousands of fighters, who hail from various Lebanese towns, are participating in the war raging in al-Qalamoun,” prominent Hizbullah sources told the Kuwaiti al-Rai newspaper on Thursday.The sources told the daily that the fighters are fully equipped and supported by a logistic team and air-led strikes by the Syrian army. Daily evaluations are carried out for the military plan.” The sources revealed that the “operations were divided into three areas: the east, south and west.”“The fighting is based on a comprehensive plan.”

They told the daily in remarks that “the experience which Hizbullah is undergoing is the first of its kind and against forces that have the necessary military expertise and have strong beliefs.” The sources considered the Qalamoun battle as the “harshest” conflict that Hizbullah has been engaged in. Hizbullah and the Syrian army seized control Wednesday of the strategic Tallet Moussa hill in Qalamoun, as they pressed on with a major offensive against militant groups in the border region.

The peak oversees Lebanon’s border area.

The forces continued their onslaught on the heights of the strategic Mount al-Barouh, where “tents belonging to the militants were torched and two military vehicles were destroyed, which left several of them dead or wounded.”

Hizbullah and the Syrian army also seized control of “strategic” Southern Aqabat al-Faskh hill west of Ras al-Maarah, the Tallet al-Harf and Dahr al-Hawa hills, and “the entire al-Khashaat heights which lie in Lebanese territory on the border with Syria,” Hizbullah’s mouthpiece al-Manar said.

Last week, Hizbullah and Syrian forces controlled the strategic heights of Assal al-Ward in Qalamoun. Some 3,000 militants are in the Qalamoun region, a Hizbullah commander recently said. 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 — 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. 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. http://www.naharnet.com/stories/en/178842-report-thousands-of-hizbullah-fighters-engaging-in-qalamoun-battle