Hezbollah and the Syrian regime tightened the noose on armed rebels fighting in the mountainous regions straddling the border between Lebanon and Syria, in a major push to uproot fighters opposed to the embattled Assad regime. Hezbollah fighters gained control of hills surrounding rebel hideouts in the border province of Qalamoun and in the mountains bordering Shiite villages in northeastern Lebanon, helping seal off food and ammunition supply lines to the stranded fighters, a security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Daily Star.

Most of the fighters belong to the Al-Qaeda affiliate, the Nusra Front, the security source said. But some of the fighters are believed to have pledged allegiance to the Al-Qaeda splinter group the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), after its advances in Iraq.

Battles raged in Qalamoun, which lies opposite to the mountainous region bordering the pro-Syrian opposition town of Arsal, and in the mountains surrounding Shiite villages like Labweh, Nahlet Younin and Al-Ain in Lebanon’s northeast, between Hezbollah and the Syrian regime armed with warplanes on one side and opposition rebels on the other. […]