Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces advance toward Islamic State positions in Seif Al Dawla district of Raqqa, Syria August 9, 2017. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra - RTS1B2GD

Lebanese army advances on Islamic State positions in the country’s north

The Lebanese army advanced on positions they said used to belong to the Islamic State in Juroud Ras Baalbek, at Lebanon’s northeast border with Syria. The Lebanese army is expected soon to assault the Islamic State pocket in the area. The United States helps arm the Lebanese army and on Monday delivered eight new armored vehicles. Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran, defeated rebel-groups last month in the insurgent enclaves near the same area on the border in Lebanon and forced the Al-Qaeda linked rebel group, the Nusra Front, to retreat from the border region. The departure of more rebels from a group called Saraya Ahl al-Sham left an Islamic State enclave as the last militant stronghold straddling the border near the Lebanese town of Arsal, which is home to tens of thousands of refugees. Defeating the Islamic State pocket would end a period of several years in which armed groups from inside Syria held positions in the hills around Arsal, the most serious spillover of the civil war into Lebanon. Meanwhile, the fact that the Western-backed Lebanese army is fighting adjacent to the Iranian-backed Hezbollah has raised concerns in Israel, which is warry of advanced Western-backed weapons falling into the hands of the Shi’ite militia, as Hezbollah continues to vow it will turn its weapons on the Jewish state once it completes its objectives in Syria.