Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn (L) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gesture after delivering joint statements in Jerusalem June 6, 2017. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun - RTX39AGA

Lebanese army launches operation again IS in Ras Baalbek

The Lebanese army launched an offensive over the weekend against an Islamic State enclave on the country’s northeastern border with Syria, as the Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah announced their own assault on the extreme Muslim group from the Syrian side of the frontier. The offensive by the Lebanese army focused on targeting Islamic State positions near the town of Ras Baalbek with rockets, artillery and helicopters; seeking to eradicate the Islamic State from its last controlled enclave on the Lebanese-Syrian border. Separately, the operation by the Iranian-backed Hezbollah and the Syrian army targeted the area across the border in the western Qalamoun region of Syria. Hezbollah-run al-Manar TV said that its fighters were ascending a series of strategic heights known as the Mosul Mountains that overlook several unofficial border crossings used by the Islamic State. A Hezbollah statement said the group was meeting its pledge to “remove the terrorist threat at the borders of the nation” and was fighting “side by side” with the Syrian army. The Hezbollah statement refrained from mentioning the operation by the Lebanese military, while the Western-backed Lebanese army emphasized that it was not coordinating the assault with Hezbollah or the Syrian army.