February 25, 2015

LEBANON: ISIS aka ISIL and al-Nusra Front Islamic Militant Groups Spreading Global Caliphate Gearing Up For Major Lebanon Push. It's Nice To See Other Humans Taking This Demonic Global Threat Seriously.

The Daily Star, Lebanon
written by Hussein Dakroub
Wednesday February 25, 2015

BEIRUT - Syria-based jihadi groups are gearing up for a major offensive deep into Lebanese territory along the eastern border with Syria to achieve two main goals: securing new supply routes and establishing a foothold as a prelude to setting up an Islamic emirate in Lebanon, analysts and military experts said.

According to retired Lebanese Army generals, ISIS and the Nusra Front, entrenched on the outskirts of the northeastern town of Arsal, have long been preparing for such an attack, but have been hampered by bad weather conditions, particularly the severe blizzards that hit Lebanon in recent months.

“The two militant groups are just waiting for favorable weather conditions to launch their attack, which could happen in the second half of March,” they said.

Hisham Jaber, a retired Lebanese Army general and an expert on terrorism, said a major attack on Lebanon by Daesh, Arabic acronym for ISIS, and the Nusra Front, Syria’s Al-Qaeda affiliate, was inevitable because the two militant groups weren’t planning to come to Lebanon for tourism purposes.

“Daesh and the Nusra Front have been preparing military plans to attack Lebanon for quite some time. They have been militarily surveying areas on the eastern border in search of a weak belly where the Lebanese Army does not exist,” Jaber told The Daily Star.

“These tafkiri groups are not waiting for the snow to melt. They will strike when they deem the conditions are fit for their attack,” said Jaber, director of the Beirut-based think tank, the Middle East Center for Political Studies and Research.

He said the two groups would try to break through Christian towns or mixed Christian-Sunni towns, such as Ras Baalbek, al-Qaa and Fakiha, areas on the eastern frontier with Syria where Hezbollah does not have any presence.

“The goal of the ISIS-Nusra attack is to undermine stability in Lebanon, strike the Lebanese Army, incite sectarian strife and hit Hezbollah in its stronghold in the Bekaa region,” Jaber said.

Mario Abou Zeid, a research analyst at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, said the two sides, the Syrian opposition groups, including ISIS and the Nusra Front, on the one hand and the Syrian Army, Hezbollah and the Lebanese Army on the other, are getting ready for a major battle when winter ends next month.

“All the parties are gearing up for the battle once the snow melts,” Abou Zeid told The Daily Star. He said the fighting would begin as soon as weather conditions improve.

Despite the heavy Army deployment, designed to tighten the noose around the jihadis holed up in caves on the outskirts of Arsal, Abou Zeid said the Nusra Front has managed to survive the siege over the past six months, having stored enough food supplies, ammunition and arms.

“But now because it is running out of supplies and ammunition, the Nusra Front will launch an attack into Lebanese territory whose main target is to have access to new supply routes,” he said.

Abou Zeid said ISIS has a goal totally different from that of the Nusra Front from any possible attack deep into Lebanese territory.

“ISIS will seek to establish a foothold in Lebanese territory as part of their long-term plan to set up an Islamic emirate in Lebanon,” he said.

Asked if the Syrian Army and Hezbollah would launch a pre-emptive strike to forestall possible attacks by ISIS and the Nusra Front, Abou Zeid said: “The Syrian Army and Hezbollah are already locked in fighting Syrian rebels in the south, seeking to capture Deraa. But the attack by the Syrian Army and Hezbollah has been repulsed by a mix of Syrian rebel groups.”

He added that should the Syrian Army and Hezbollah succeed in capturing Deraa, they would then launch a pre-emptive strike against ISIS and the Nusra Front in the Qalamoun region.

Among the options envisaged by the Nusra Front to open new supply routes is the Shebaa-Rashaya area near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, he said.

Given the fact that the Nusra Front is so desperate for a new supply line, Abou Zeid said the Shebaa-Rashaya front carries a high risk of exploding in the face of the Syrian Army and Hezbollah.

Thousands of Nusra Front militants are deployed in the Syrian town of Qunaitra in the Golan Heights.

Amid growing fears of an impending jihadi assault when winter ends, the Lebanese Army, whose pre-emptive strikes against terror cells have already thwarted several suicide bomb attacks, is fully ready to repulse any new assault by ISIS and the Nusra Front, which are still holding 25 soldiers and policemen hostage. They were captured during the two groups’ incursion into Arsal last August.

“The Lebanese Army is always ready to confront any attack by any terrorist group in any area in Lebanon,” a senior military official told The Daily Star.

He recalled the militants’ botched attempt last month to overrun a military outpost near the northeastern town of Ras Baalbek, sparking fierce clashes between the Army and ISIS militants that left eight soldiers dead and 22 others wounded. At least 40 militants, whose bodies were discovered on the outskirts of Ras Baalbek, were killed in the fighting, most of them in Lebanese Army airstrikes.

Asked if the Army was taking extraordinary military measures to face any possible militant attack, the official said: “These are military matters which we cannot disclose.”

In a televised speech earlier this month, Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah called on the Lebanese Army to be prepared to face attacks by ISIS and the Nusra Front when the snow melts at the end of winter on Lebanon’s eastern border with Syria.

Retired Army general Amin Hoteit warned of the impending danger posed by ISIS and the Nusra Front, saying he expected the two groups to launch their offensive in Lebanon in the second half of March. He called for coordination between the Lebanese and Syrian armies to forestall any jihadi attack.

“The aim of the attack is to seize territory and secure logistical supply lines,” Hoteit, a supporter of Hezbollah, told The Daily Star.

“On Lebanon’s eastern mountain range near the border with Syria, there are two terrorist groups, the Nusra Front and ISIS. These groups are unable now to carry out massive military operations because of the difficulty of movement and due to the snow,” he said.

“After their failure to occupy any village in the Qalamoun region, these groups will try to expand toward Lebanon, namely toward the towns of Arsal and Brital,” Hoteit said.

“Lebanon is facing a serious threat from these terrorist groups. In order for Lebanon to meet this challenge, the Lebanese Army’s readiness should be raised to a high level to confront any terrorist attack,” Hoteit added.

“Secondly, there should be coordination between the Lebanese and Syrian armies in order to put the terrorists in a pincer grip to restrict their movement toward Lebanon and prevent their return to Syria so that they can be killed,” Hoteit said.

Asked if the Lebanese Army is capable of repulsing a joint ISIS-Nusra Front attack, Hoteit replied: “If provided with the appropriate arms along with logistical and manpower support, the Army can accomplish this mission. But as matters stand now, the Army might need assistance and backing from the resistance [Hezbollah].”

Abou Zeid, the Carnegie researcher, said: “The Lebanese Army has defensive capabilities to repel any attack. But it lacks the needed military equipment for offensive purposes.”

Jaber, the retired Army general, said the Lebanese Army needs helicopters to repel any joint massed ISIS-Nusra attack. “But based on intelligence information, the Army is capable of confronting those terrorist groups and ambushing them,” he said.

According to Jaber, if ISIS and the Nusra Front attacked Lebanon, Hezbollah would intervene to help the Lebanese Army in repelling these groups.

Jaber lamented the fact that despite increased talk on the need to equip the Army with weapons to enable it to face jihadi groups, “the Army, except for the U.S. military assistance which is insufficient, has not received even a screw from French arms funded by the $3 billion Saudi grant.”

Earlier this month, the United States delivered $25 million worth of weapons, including heavy artillery, to the Lebanese Army, while France promised to send the first batch of Saudi-funded arms in April.

The Future Movement and Hezbollah, alarmed by the security threats posed to the country by Islamist militants, have been meeting to defuse sectarian tensions and last week began discussing a joint national strategy to fight terrorism.

The move came days after former Prime Minister Saad Hariri called on Lebanese parties, especially Hezbollah, to hammer out a national strategy to fight terrorism.

Hariri’s call has been welcomed by Hezbollah leader Nasrallah, who has voiced support for an anti-terror strategy against Islamist incursions into Lebanon.


Breitbart News
written by Edwin Mora
Monday February 23, 2015

The Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL) jihadist group is reportedly planning to declare an Islamic emirate in Lebanon, security sources told a Lebanese news outlet.

“ISIS is preparing military plans to declare an Islamic emirate in Lebanon very soon to serve as a geographical extension of the so-called ‘Islamic State’ announced by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Iraq last year,” security sources told The Daily Star in Lebanon.

“ISIS fighters have demanded support from the militant group in northern Syria to achieve this goal, the sources said,” the sources added.

ISIS is expected to establish a military organizational committee charged with running affairs in Lebanon and considering Lebanon part of its Islamic state.

However, the sources told the Lebanese media outlet that “ISIS is facing difficulties in choosing a Lebanese commander for this mission. The reported appointment of the fugitive preacher Ahmad al-Assir for this post was merely a trial balloon.”

The sources added “that arrangements to form an ISIS command for the Lebanon emirate were taking place under the supervision of the group commander Khalaf al-Zeyabi Halous, codenamed ‘Abu Musaab Halous,’ a Syrian who had played a key role in the ISIS offensive to capture the Raqqa province in 2013.”

The Lebanese security sources note that jihadist group’s attempt to expand into Lebanon may be “doomed to failure” since it has not been cleared by “the powers backing ISIS.”

U.S. military aid is expected to reach Lebanon to help the country repel attacks from jihadist groups such as ISIS.

“The United States will provide the Lebanese Army with six Super Cobra fighter aircraft as part of the U.S. military aid to the Army… Also, sources close to the military establishment said that America had agreed to sell some F-5 fighter jets to the Lebanese Army in the next five months,” reports The Daily Star.

ISIS may face resistance from the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah, which is based in Lebanon.

The leader of the Shiite Hezbollah group has urged the Middle East to unite and join the fight agains the Sunni ISIS group in Iraq and Syria.

Hezbollah is considered a legitimate political party in Lebanon.

“An influential party in Lebanon has received important information indicating that ISIS is bent on recruiting more suicide bombers equipped with explosives belts to target Shiite gatherings in Beirut and the southern suburbs as well as French and Western interests, while the Iranian Embassy in Beirut, which was targeted with a deadly twin suicide attack in November 2013, is still vulnerable to another assault,” reports The Daily Star without naming the “influential party.”

Christians in Lebanon have reportedly armed themselves to combat ISIS and other jihadists.

ISIS controls large swaths of Iraq and Syria. Lebanon borders Syria. ISIS may also face resistance from marijuana growers in Lebanon.
Supporters of Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah hold up placards during a rally commemorating the annual Hezbollah Martyrs' Leader Day in Beirut, 16 February, 2015. The placards say "we are all Jihad", referring to Jihad Moughniyah, son of Lebanon's Hezbollah late military commander Imad Moughniyah, who was killed during an Israeli strike in Syria last month.(REUTERS/Aziz Taher)

Hebollah did to Lebanon what Omar al-Bashir, member of the Muslim Brotherhood did to Sudan, genocide of Christians in Darfur and what Ayatolla Khomeini did to Iran and what ISIS is doing to Iraq and Syria.

International Business Times
written by Elsa Buchanan
Tuesday February 17, 2015

The Lebanese Shi'ite movement Hezbollah is fighting the Islamic State (Isis) in Iraq, its leader Hassan Nasrallah revealed.

"We may not have spoken about Iraq before, but we have a limited presence because of the sensitive phase that Iraq is going through," Nasrallah claimed during a speech to supporters in southern Beirut on 16 February, 2015.

Hezbollah's unit in Iraq, Hizballah al-Abrar, has sent fighters to Amerli, Diyala and Baghdad, according to Phillip Smyth, a researcher focused on extremist groups at the University of Maryland and author of the blog Hizballah Cavalcade.

Nasrallah called on the countries of the Middle East to join the battle in Syria and Iraq against IS: "We call on the people and governments of the region in order to work together to confront the takfiri threat. We are all capable of defeating this threat and those who stand behind this threat, whether it be [Israeli] Mossad, the [American] CIA, or the British intelligence."

For the first time, Nasrallah spoke without the sound of celebratory gunfire resounding through Beirut. This followed a call made by the Hezbollah leader the day before to not fire any shots in the air. Supporters instead held yellow balloons, the colour of Hezbollah.

Syria offensive

Nasrallah's speech comes less than two days after his leading Lebanese opponent, Saad Hariri, called on Hezbollah to withdraw from Syria, where Hezbollah is already fighting alongside President Bashar Assad's forces.

"I say to those who call on us to withdraw from Syria, let's go together to Syria," Nasrallah said. "I say, come with us to Iraq, and to any place where we can fight this threat that is threatening our [Muslim] nation and our region."

Nasrallah said IS was the same as the al-Qaida affiliated Jabat al-Nusra, which is also fighting against the Assad regime: "We must not fool ourselves by trying to differentiate between Daesh [IS] and al-Nusra Front, as they are one reality, one ideology, one approach and one goal."

Less than a week ago, Hezbollah, the Syrian army, and pro-regime militias launched a major offensive against rebels and their al-Nusra Front allies in southern Syria.

Nasrallah meanwhile, said it made no sense for unnamed Gulf countries (in what is believed to be an apparent reference to Saudi Arabia and Qatar) as well as Jordan to fight IS, while allegedly supporting the Al-Nusra Front.

Hezbollah, like Assad's regime, brands all those fighting Damascus as "terrorists".

"How can some countries in the Gulf take part in the [US-led] international coalition against Daesh [IS], while giving money and weapons to the Al-Nusra Front... How is that logical?" said Nasrallah.

In August 2014, a US-led coalition launched strikes against IS positions in Iraq. The campaign was extended to include targets in Syria in September.

In December, a 60-strong squadron of Special Air Service (SAS) troopers was been sent to Iraq and ordered to target IS militants, in the hope of tracking down Jihadi John.

In his speech, Nasrallah also warned that "the region is going in the direction of more crises, more confrontations, and new fronts are opening".
Washington Free Beacon
written by Abraham Rabinovich
Wednesday February 11, 2015

JERUSALEM—The Syrian army and its Hezbollah ally launched a joint attack this week apparently aimed at capturing a swath of territory abutting the Israeli-held Golan Heights from rebel forces, opening a possible new front for the Israeli army to contend with.

Iran, which has acknowledged sending military advisers and high-ranking officers from its Revolutionary Guard to assist in the operation, is believed to be behind the strategic move. The establishment of Hezbollah bases on Syrian territory opposite the Golan would enable the Lebanese organization to strike at Israel without risking retaliation against Lebanon.

While the Syrian army is playing a major role in border battles, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the Syrian civil war, the position of the Damascus regime regarding the Iranian-inspired move is unclear. Since a ceasefire was signed by Syria and Israel in the wake of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Syria has kept its border with Israel peaceful. It has been the most peaceful of Israel’s four borders with Arab states. Neither President Bashar al-Assad nor his father and predecessor as president, Hafez al-Assad, wished to risk retaliation from Israel by permitting infiltration or harassment across the border.

However, the central role Iran is playing in supporting Damascus in the Syrian civil war, both economically and militarily, means that the Syrian regime cannot lightly dismiss Iranian interests. These interests include making Hezbollah a credible military force capable of deterring Israel from striking at Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.

This week’s battles, which included tanks and artillery on the Syrian side, are the heaviest in the area since the civil war began four years ago. The Syrian army and Hezbollah are within five miles of the border. Israel has said it will not permit the area adjacent to the border to become a Hezbollah base of operations, which raises the possibility of a direct confrontation.

After reports in the Israeli media last month of Hezbollah’s plans to begin operating from the Golan border area, Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah issued a denial. However, a few days later an Israeli air attack destroyed two SUVs reconnoitering the border area. Twelve military personnel were killed in the attack. It emerged that they were six Hezbollah fighters and six Iranian members of the Revolutionary Guard. Among the dead was Jihad Mughniye, the son of Imad Mughniye, Hezbollah’s military chief assassinated in Damascus in 2008. The younger Mughniye had reportedly been designated by the organization as commander of the Golan front Hezbollah is seeking to establish. Among the Iranians killed in the attack was a senior general. Tehran has warned that it will respond against Israel at a time and place of its choosing.

For the past three years, Israel has retained a working relationship with the rebel militias along the Golan border, including the al Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front. Some 1,000 wounded Syrians have been treated by Israeli medical personnel in field hospitals on the Golan side of the border set up specifically for this purpose and many have been hospitalized inside Israel. Israel is also reported to have supplied blankets and other humanitarian items for Syrian villages in the border area. Although shells from the Syrian side have occasionally exploded inside Israeli territory, Israeli officers describe these as mostly random overshots.

Nasrallah has attacked the Syrian rebel groups in the area, specifically the al-Nusra Front, for serving as Israel’s shields.

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