Hizbullah Downplays al-Qalamoun Casulaties, Says Only Three Fighters Killed
Hizbullah stated on Friday that the number of fighters who were killed in Syria's al-Qalamoun front were only three, denying media reports claiming otherwise.
“Some Lebanese and Arab media reports continue to broadcast false reports on the number of Hizbullah fighters killed in the last few days in al-Qalamoun front claiming that the number has totaled 40,” the statement said.
“Hizbullah emphasizes that these reports are totally untrue and baseless. Only three fighters have been killed since the confrontations began. Their honorable families have been notified,” it added.
Some media outlets said that more than 40 of Hizbullah fighters had died in fighting against Islamic militants near the border with Lebanon this week.
However, al-Nusra Front said in statement via Twitter later during the day: “A large number of Hizbullah and Syrian army members were killed and others wounded in fighting with al-Fatah al-Qalamoun army in Assal al-Wared.
“After Hizbullah infiltrated the area from the Lebanese side, the Mujahedin made a tactical withdrawal from Assal al-Wared to repel the infiltration," added the statement.
“Hizbullah is exploiting Lebanon's land to sneak behind our fighters. We warn the Lebanese, Hizbullah is trying to drag them into a war schemed by Iran."
Hizbullah has been fighting alongside Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces against predominantly Sunni rebels and militants seeking to topple him.
Fighting has intensified in the past week in the mountainous al-Qalamoun region across the border from Lebanon, where militants from the Islamic State group and the al-Qaida-affiliated Nusra Front are entrenched.
Hizbullah and Syrian government troops took control on Thursday of strategic heights in the Syrian region of al-Qalamoun that abuts Lebanon's eastern border.
The control of the area on the outskirts of Assal al-Wared came following heavy clashes with al-Nusra Front.