Hezbollah suffers heavy losses in clashes with jihadists
BAALBEK - Eight fighters from Lebanon's Hezbollah movement were killed in clashes with jihadists in an area on the border with Syria, a Hezbollah source said on Monday.
The source revised an earlier toll of five dead for Sunday's attack by jihadists on a Hezbollah post and clashes that followed.
The early morning attack targeted the post in mountains around the town of Nabi Sbat, east of Baalbek on the border with Syria.
The source said "dozens" of jihadists were killed in the assault, which Lebanon's National News Agency said was launched from Assal al-Ward in Syria's Qalamun province.
Al-Qaeda's Syria affiliate, Al-Nusra Front, claimed involvement in the attack on one of its official Twitter accounts on Monday.
The group said its fighters "launched an attack from Assal" on the Hezbollah post.
"More than 11 of them were killed and their weapons seized," it added, posting photos it said were of dead Hezbollah fighters.
Lebanon's border with Syria is not officially defined and much of it is porous and unpatrolled, with local residents, smugglers and others moving freely across it.
Hezbollah maintains several military posts along inaccessible parts of the border, and it rarely gives official details on clashes with jihadists or other fighters.
The clashes come two months after jihadists from the Islamic State group and Al-Nusra attacked Lebanese security forces in Arsal, which also lies on the Syrian border in eastern Lebanon.
The jihadists withdrew into the mountains around Arsal after a ceasefire, but took with them around 30 soldiers and policemen as hostages.
Three of them have since been executed, contributing to rising anxiety in Lebanon over the encroachment of jihadists and spillover from the more than three-year-old war in Syria.
Hezbollah has dispatched fighters to bolster President Bashar al-Assad's troops against an uprising that many of Lebanon's Sunnis support.
The conflict has exacerbated existing tensions in Lebanon, and made Hezbollah and its strongholds of support a target for extremists who have detonated bombs in several areas.