BEIRUT - Hezbollah fighters have captured two hilltops from al-Qaida's Syria wing Nusra Front in areas close to the Lebanese border and have killed dozens of enemy combatants, Hezbollah-run al-Manar television reported on Monday.
It said in a newsflash that the Lebanese Shi'ite Muslim group had captured the hilltops of Quba'a and Naqar in Syria's southwestern Quneitra province, which lies in sensitive territory close to Lebanon and Israel.Iranian-backed Hezbollah has supported Syrian President Bashar Assad in his country's civil war. The group's leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, has vowed to clear the border area of Sunni Muslim militant groups that have carried out attacks on Lebanese soil.
Nasrallah said on Sunday that Hezbollah was willing to increase its presence in Syria when needed and that the fight was part of a wider strategy to prevent groups like Nusra Front, and the ultra-hardline Islamic State, from taking over the region.
He added that an offensive his group is leading in the mountainous region of Qalamoun along the border between Syria and Lebanon would last "until the borders are secured." Lebanon was torn apart by its own civil war from 1975 to 1990, and officials have voiced concerns about cross-border offensives that they warn could drag the smaller country further into the Syrian conflict.
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