Lebanon’s Hezbollah fighters have recaptured the last stronghold of Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front in the country. RT’s Eisa Ali was able to get inside a cave in the barren mountains, on the border with Syria, where jihadists had holed up for years.
Hezbollah is backing the Lebanese forces in the fight against the extremists. During the recent offensive against Al-Nusra Front (also known as Jabhat Fatah al-Sham), it managed to capture the cave, which served as the headquarters for the Al-Qaeda-affiliated militants.
“Inside the cave we make a shocking discovery…what appear to be prison cells,” Ali says once inside. “It’s unclear why exactly Al-Nusra Front needed prison cells in this isolated area, perhaps punishment, or perhaps to prevent their own fighters from fleeing in the middle of the night.”
Ali showed a cache of abandoned weapons captured from Al-Nusra Front fighters – rockets, tactical vests, missile launchers, anti-tank guns and all sorts of artillery scattered around the cave.
“There’s even a room where battle plans are drawn up and fighters receive instructions. They take their seats here and listen to the commanders,” Ali explained.
The RT crew traveled to eastern Lebanon to chronicle the results of an offensive by Hezbollah militia, which saw up to 90 Al-Nusra Front militants killed and an area of 100sq km liberated in the mountainous terrain near the town of Arsal on the border with Syria, according to Hezbollah media officials. Some 200 more terrorists were surrounded and reportedly agreed to leave Lebanon for Syria.
“Ninety Nusra militants were killed in that battle and those who survived fled to Idlib, where fighting continues between different rebel groups,” Ali said.
“Many more of them decided to defect to Islamic State [IS, formerly ISIS, ISIL],” he added. Some of the Hezbollah commanders told Ali they could be only 4km away from the recaptured cave headquarters.
While Washington is reluctant to provide the Lebanese army with much needed support to fight terrorists, it also prevents it from getting arms from Russia or Iran, former Lebanese MP Mohammed Obeid told RT earlier.
“We don’t need any airstrikes support, we need that the Americans, especially that the Americans won’t allow to get weapons and arms from Russia and even from Iran or any other countries that support the Lebanese army… allow the Lebanese army to evacuate this area from Daesh [Arabic pejorative for IS], to destroy them and throw them out,” Obeid, a political analyst and a former Lebanese MP, said.