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Lebanese Army nears victory over Daesh

In this photo released by Lebanon's official government photographer Dalati Nohra, Lebanese Army Commander Gen. Joseph Aoun, center, explains to Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, lower center, about the situation at front line, where the Lebanese army is engaged in a battle against Daesh militants, in Das Baalbek, northeast Lebanon, on Wednesday. (AP)
BEIRUT: The Lebanese Army needs to liberate Martbia, Siraj Hiqab Al-Shir and Al-Shahut in the barrens of Ras Baalbek and Al-Qaa to declare victory over Daesh, a Lebanese military source told Arab News.
The Lebanese military command said in a statement that there is “no cease-fire with the terrorist group until their full defeat.”
The source said on Wednesday, the fifth day of Operation Barrens’ Dawn, the army was “clearing the liberated areas from mines… and made them secure after strengthening the military belt around them.”
The army had succeeded in previous days in restricting the militants to a small geographic area of about 20 sq. km. They only had the Martbia crossing to withdraw toward Syria.
The Lebanese Army command mourned Staff Sgt. Walid Mahmoud Freij, who died of injuries he received on the first day of the operation while removing a land mine.
Meanwhile, military operations continued on the Syrian side on Wednesday. Hezbollah said its fighters and the Syrian Army destroyed a Daesh command center in Jib Khawlah, south of the Sin Fikha crossing in western Qalamun.
Hezbollah media reported that they entered Mira crossing, which links the barrens of Qara and Ras Baalbek via Sin Fikha, and that the total area captured amounted to 30 sq. km.

Al-Hariri visit
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri visited the barracks of the army’s second land border regiment in Ras Baalbek.
Along with the commander of the army, Gen. Joseph Aoun, and senior officers, Al-Hariri inspected the military operation room and was updated on developments. The prime minister and Aoun also inspected army positions on the frontlines.
In a press conference at the barracks, Al-Hariri expressed the “firm support of the whole government of the heroic army, which is conducting a difficult task.”
He said: “Those terrorists who claim to be Muslims have nothing to do with Islam or any other religion. Their only religion is murder and explosions, and God willing, we’ll get rid of them and victory is near.”
Al-Hariri told soldiers: “You’re the ones who decide the timing of this victory, because you know when the operation should finish.”
Concerning the participation of Hezbollah in the military operation, Al-Hariri said: “The Lebanese Army is responsible for the Lebanese borders and their protection. There are battles on the other side (of the border), and when we protect our borders we won’t let anyone enter Lebanese territories.”
When asked whether the army was “incapable” of liberating the barrens of Arsal from Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham (JFS), so “Hezbollah did the job,” he replied: “The army wasn’t incapable. We had a political decision and different calculations as a government and army. We put everything on the table, and we had the priority of protecting the displaced and the Lebanese. The army… achieved great success at that. Its artillery played an essential role in the battle.”
Al-Hariri said all Lebanese political parties “won’t allow any political differences to affect the stability of Lebanon, its economy and security.”

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