Lebanon’s Hezbollah group announced that it had declared a ceasefire in the Arsal region of Northeast Lebanon bordering Syria, after nearly a week of a successful joint offensive against extremist groups in the region carried out with the Syrian Government.
“What I can say now is that this Tuesday serious negotiations began, and we have to accept them,” Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said during a speech. He said that both the Lebanese and Syrian states participated in these talks as well.
Nasrallah said that they had run a successful campaign, effectively taking most of the land held by the militants formerly known as the al-Nusra Front, which was the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda. The remaining militants accepted an agreement to have safe passage back to Idlib, a region of Syria largely under rebel control, the Lebanese National News Agency reported.
Fighting “shoulder to shoulder” with the Syrian army, Nasrallah said on Wednesday that they were “on the verge of a very big military victory.” The Lebanese state army, which recieves U.S. and British support, did not participate in the offensive, but set up defensive posts behind it.
Security sources have said that nearly 150 fighters in terrorist groups were killed in the offensive, and two dozen Hezbollah soldiers, Reuters reported.
An adjacent area of the combat area is controlled by an enclave of Islamic State group militants, who are expected to be the next targets of Hezbollah.
Hezbollah has played a major role in cooperation with the Syrian government in the struggle against terrorist groups along Syria’s border region.