Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement has swapped the bodies of five of its fighters with nine corpses of militants belong to the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham Takfiri terrorist group, formerly known as al-Nusra Front, along the Lebanese-Syrian border in the first stage of a settlement to bring back order to a contested frontier zone.
The swap was carried out on Sunday, following two weeks of fierce battles along the mountainous border, as part of a border ceasefire deal between the two sides that came into effect on Thursday. The two sides will conduct a similar swap on Monday.
The truce between was agreed after Hezbollah fighters dealt a heavy blow to the militants in Lebanon’s rugged Arsal region bordering Syria. At least 150 militants of the Takfiri group were killed in the Hezbollah operation aimed at preventing the spillover of the Syria war.
The ceasefire agreement involves the departure of all militants of the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham group from the region around Arsal along with any of the civilians, living in Arsal’s refugee camps, who wish to leave the border zone with them.
The resistance fighters are expected to launch a similar offensive against an enclave controlled by the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group near Arasal.
The Arsal area was hit hard by the spillover of the Syria crisis in 2014, when militants managed to overrun the town for a brief period. About 45,000 Syrian refugees, registered with the UN, live in the town but more are believed to be living in camps in the Juroud area, although their numbers have not been confirmed.
Lebanon has often seen the infiltration of Takfiri elements from neighboring Syria into its territory, where they target the civilian population or security forces with bombings.
Assisting army forces, Hezbollah fighters have so far fended off several attacks by the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and Daesh Takfiri terrorist groups. Hezbollah says its mission in Syria is aimed at preventing the spillover of the crisis into Lebanon.