Hezbollah loses 10 fighters in al-Nusra Front clashes

The death toll is one of the group's highest single loses since it publicly took part in fighting in Syria

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At least 10 Hezbollah fighters have been killed in clashes with al-Qaeda’s Syrian wing the al-Nusra Front in eastern Lebanon , Reuters quoted a source in the group as saying on Monday.

The death toll was one of the highest the group has suffered in a single action since it said it would fight alongside the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Hezbollah sources in the area reported earlier that the clashes erupted after gunmen from Syria attacked Hezbollah posts in the area.

“Hezbollah posts in the mountains around Nabi Sbat, east of Baalbek, were attacked by armed groups who came from Qalamun” in Syria, the Hezbollah source in the region told AFP.

“Hezbollah returned fire, inflicting heavy losses among the attackers,” the sources added.

Lebanon’s official National News Agency also reported the clashes, saying they erupted after an attack launched by gunmen from Asaal al-Ward in Syria’s Qalamun province.

Hezbollah pushed back the offensive and sources said dozens of al-Nusra fighters were also killed.

Sunday’s two-hour battle, in which both sides used mortars and rocket-propelled grenades, is one of the deadliest fought in Lebanon between the Shi’ite group and Syrian insurgents.

The Qaeda fighters, who see Hezbollah as among their chief foes, attacked a large area stretching from south of the town of Baalbek up to areas close to the border town of Arsal.

The Lebanese army stayed out of the clashes but has also battled insurgents in the area.

Residents from Nabi Sbat who fled the fighting told AFP they saw Hezbollah convoys picking up several wounded fighters from the group during the clashes.

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.

[With AFP and Reuters]

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