Executive Summary for July 19th

We review key events in Syria, including preparations for a Hezbollah offensive against militants on the Lebanese-Syrian frontier, the killing of 15 Syrian rebels by the SDF in northern Syria and a suicide bombing on a Kurdish security checkpoint in northern Syria.

Published on July 19, 2017 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

Hezbollah Prepares Offensive Against Jihadists on Syrian Border

Lebanon’s Hezbollah launched strikes against militant positions along the Lebanese-Syrian frontier Tuesday, ahead of an offensive to expel jihadist groups from the region, the Daily Star reported.

The Lebanese militia targeted positions of al-Qaida-linked militants with rockets and missiles in Lebanon’s Arsal region – an area of the border with Syria that has been a base of operations for militants for more than three years.

The preliminary strikes came as Lebanon’s prime minister announced that the Lebanese army would also carry out an operation against the so-called Islamic State and al-Qaida-linked militants entrenched in rugged mountainous terrain along the frontier.

“[The] army will carry out a calculated operation on the outskirts of Arsal and the government gives it full freedom,” Saad Hariri said.

The Lebanese army, however, will not be coordinating with the Syrian army and is expected to limit its operations to the Lebanese side of the frontier as Hezbollah and Syrian troops push militants out of the Syrian side of the border.

Militants seized Arsal briefly in 2014, abducting several Lebanese servicemen before retreating back to the mountains. The army and Hezbollah have kept the town under restrictive guard since then.

Dozens of Rebels Killed by SDF in Northern Syria

At least 15 Turkish-backed Syrian rebels have been killed in clashes in northern Syria since Monday, Agence France-Presse reported, citing a war monitor.

Rebels under the banner of “Ahl al-Diyar” have been locked in fierce fighting with the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) for two days in the Kurdish-held village of Ain Daqna in Aleppo.

“Since Monday, 15 fighters from Syrian rebel factions were killed in the clashes and four SDF fighters were wounded, including one in critical condition,” the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported Tuesday, according to AFP.

A local official from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which makes up the bulk of the SDF, said his forces had retrieved some of the rebels’ bodies.

“We will hand over these nine bodies to the Kurdish Red Crescent in Afrin (west) for their families to retrieve them,” Brusk Hasakah told reporters.

In a statement released on Monday, rebels said they attacked Ain Daqna because they see the SDF as “occupiers.” “We promise our people more flash attacks … We will make them regret occupying this land and displacing thousands,” the statement, carried by AFP, read.

The mounting tensions between Syrian Kurdish groups and Turkey in northern Syria is threatening to open another major frontline in the multisided Syrian war.

Suicide Bomber in Northern Syria Kills Four

A suicide bomber drove an explosive-laden car into a checkpoint in a Kurdish-controlled area of northeastern Syria on Tuesday, killing four people, Reuters reported, citing a war monitor.

The attack, claimed by ISIS, took place near the village of Tel Tamr, 19 miles (30km) from the Syrian-Turkish border, Rami Abdulrahman, director of SOHR, told Reuters.

Syrian state TV also said that a car bomb attack in the area had killed four people, but reported that it had occurred in the nearby town of Ras al-Ayn.

Kurdish-controlled areas have come under regular ISIS bomb attacks.

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