Hezbollah will pay a heavy price in Qalamoun, FSA warns


hezbollah pointing  its arms against the syriansThe Iranian-backed Lebanese Shiite party Hezbollah is preparing for a decisive battle in Syria’a Al-Qalamoun, sources told Al-Watan newspaper in remarks published on Sunday.

The sources added that the battle will begin before the Geneva 2 conference, set to take place towards the end of November.

“Hezbollah has been trying to recruit more than fifteen thousand militants and is seeking to make it a short battle… since winter season will not be in the Syrian regime troops’ favor,” the sources were quoted as saying.

The sources said a booby-trapped vehicle discovered in the Hezbollah stronghold of Dahieh was the handiwork of Al-Qaida-affiliated militias operating in the Al-Qalamoun villages, located on the slopes of the east Lebanon mountains.

The Free Syrian Army (FSA) , the main alliance of anti-government rebels, warned Hezbollah that it would pay a heavy price if it went ahead with its campaign, since the rebels in the Al-Qalamoun region number in the thousands and hold major strategic ground, local media reported.

Thousands of Hezbollah fighters are fighting alongside the forces loyal to president Assad against the Syrian rebels who are seeking to overthrow the 40 year old regime despite the Baabda agreement that calls for distancing Lebanon from regional and international conflicts.

The Al-Qalamoun battle could return Lebanon to the atmosphere that prevailed during the Qusair battle, according to local media reports

The consequences of the Al-Qalamoun battle, which has been on hold for months, may have already started, according to a report by to AL Monitor.

The report added that controlling Al-Qalamoun was one of the objectives of the broad operation the Syrian army was preparing for the Damascus countryside and Ghouta last August. But the chemical weapons imbroglio delayed the operation. So Al-Qalamoun became a refuge for the armed opposition, after many opposition fighters were forced to withdraw from east and west Ghouta as the Syrian army made progress there for two months.

The AL Monitor report added the Al-Qalamoun battle may have repercussions on the Lebanese interior because Liwa al-Islam, which is led by Zahran Alloush, has become the main opposition force on Lebanon’s eastern slopes in Arsal al-Ward, the Rankous Plain, and Hawsh al-Arab. That threat is serious because Alloush, who has set up his base of operations in the area, has returned from a visit to Saudi Arabia last week, where he met his financial and military authority, the director of Saudi intelligence Prince Bandar bin Sultan.