The battle cry sounded on 20 July 2017, and now round one of the battle for the Jurd d’Ersal has been sealed with a crushing victory for the Hezbollah over al-Qaeda (formerly, the al-Nusra Front) [1].

Finally, an agreement was negotiated to allow all al Qaeda combatants, as well as those of Ersal and those present in other parts of Lebanon to withdraw. They have been rounded up, bundled into 170 buses and evacuated to Idleb, to the North West of Syria.

The agreement covers Al Qaeda’s regional military staff which was set up in the Palestinian camp of Ain al-Hilweh (Sidon), which benefits from being considered not part of the territory. This military staff included 168 terrorist leaders that the United Nations has been trying to track down.

All members of al-Qaeda and their families that live in Lebanon and in the Jurd totalled 7,700.

Round two of the battle will be waged against Daesh, which is now completely encircled, in quasi-desert territory covering almost 300 km2. It is hardly probable that this will also end in a negotiated agreement, because the only place to which the jihadists could be moved to is Idleb. This would involve Daesh fighters swearing their allegiance to al Qaeda.

The High Council of the Lebanese Defense met on 8 August 2017. The meeting was chaired by the Lebanese President, General Michel Aoun. The Lebanese army on the one hand and the armies of Syria and Hezbollah on the other, immediately launched a coordinated offensive, seizing the posts Daesh had gained.

During this time, other units of the Syrian Arab Army are getting ready to liberate Deir-ez-Zor as US-trained Kurdish combatants prepare to liberate Raqqa [2].

After 7 years of war, within the next few months, the entire Levant could be freed of all jihadist groups… all that is, apart from the “Islamic Emirate of ldleb”.

Anoosha Boralessa

[1The battle for the Jurd of Ersal has begun”, Translation Anoosha Boralessa, Voltaire Network, 23 July 2017.

[2The secret agreement to restore Raqqa to Syria”, Translation Anoosha Boralessa, Voltaire Network, 6 August 2017.