Lebanon begins anti-IS offensive

Russia claims ISIS-held eastern Hama town surrounded

Hezbollah has sent thousands of its fighters to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government in the battle against Syrian rebel groups and militants.

Lebanon suffered its first casualties from a massive operation to drive the Islamic State group from an area along the Syrian border on Sunday when a roadside bomb killed three soldiers.

The Lebanese army, a major recipient of USA military aid, did not take part in the July operation, but it has been gearing up to target the ISIL pocket in the same mountainous region.

The shelling comes at a time when Hezbollah and the Syrian government are preparing for a major military operation to expel the extremist group from a stretch of land on the Syrian side of the frontier.

Despite the Lebanon-based Hezbollah actively intervening in military operations in Syria, the Lebanese army leadership confirmed that the battle it is waging is not coordinated in any way either with Hezbollah or with the Syrian regime.

The army says around 600 ISIL fighters were deployed in the Jurud Ras Baalbek and Jurud al-Qaa areas and controlled around 120 square kms of territory before the latest advances. 10 Lebanese soldiers were wounded, and there was no report of any casualties on Hezbollah's side.

The US will fail to fragment Syria "because the Syrian people are one", she said.

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The Lebanese army said it was attacking the group from inside its territory and was not coordinating with Hizballah or the Syrian army in the operation.

Hezbollah issued a separate statement saying that it began its offensive early on Saturday, with no mention of the Lebanese army operation.

"It's the most hard battle so far waged by the Lebanese army against terrorist groups", he said, citing the nature of the terrain and enemy tactics.

The group has claimed to have this capability for almost three years.

The operations come as IS claimed responsibility for the Spanish terror attacks and a stabbing of pedestrians in Russian Federation.

Lebanon's army found anti-aircraft missiles among with a cache of weapons in an area abandoned by Islamic State militants, it said on Monday.

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