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Lebanese Army winds down Daesh offensive

Lebanese soldiers with their military vehicles in the town of Ras Baalbek on Monday. (Reuters)
BEIRUT: The Lebanese Army’s assault on Daesh militants near Ras Baalbek on the Syrian border began to wind down on Monday after most of the territory occupied by the militants was retaken.
Operations on the third day of the offensive were limited to clearing recaptured hills and opening main routes for armored vehicles, a Lebanese military source said.
The source said the army was committed to avoiding civilian casualties, and denied that there were negotiations with Daesh.
Lebanese Army Command said their units had seized a large quantity of weapons, ammunitions and other military equipment from Daesh caves and trenches. They also seized phones, cameras and drugs.
The American Embassy in Beirut expressed “the pride of the US in supporting the Lebanese Army, the only defender of Lebanon in its battle against Daesh.”
The embassy wished a speedy recovery to troops wounded in the operation, and offered its condolences to the families of three Lebanese soldiers who died in a roadside bombing on Sunday.
The French Embassy also offered condolences, and said: “France and Lebanon are facing a common enemy. We fully support the Lebanese Army in its battle against Daesh.”
Meanwhile, Lebanese militant movement Hezbollah has used weaponized drones against Daesh across the border in war-ravaged Syria, its media arm said, according to AFP.
A source on the ground told AFP it was the first time that Hezbollah had deployed weaponized drones against Daesh in Syria, where the Shiite movement is fighting to bolster President Bashar Assad’s regime.
“The armed drones of the Resistance (Hezbollah) targeted Daesh positions and fortifications in western Qalamun,” Hezbollah’s War Media channel said.
On Saturday, Hezbollah said it had launched an operation against Daesh.
A source on the ground told AFP on Monday that “this is the first time Hezbollah has used weaponized drones in a clash with IS (Daesh).”
The group had deployed such drones in previous clashes with other opponents, “but now we are unleashing a barrage of bombs,” the source said.
Security along Lebanon’s unmarked eastern border with Syria has long been a concern.
Last month, Hezbollah waged a six-day assault against Al-Qaeda’s former affiliate in the border region, which ended in the evacuation of the hard-liners and thousands of civilians.
The current offensive targets remaining territory further north along the frontier where Daesh militants have entrenched themselves.
The Lebanese Army has denied any coordination with Hezbollah or the Syrian regime’s army on the ongoing assault.
Daesh itself has used weaponized drones to defend territory it holds in Iraq and Syria from US-backed offensives.

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