(MENAFN- Gulf Times) Lebanese soldiers yesterday renewed fire on Islamic State group positions on the country's eastern border with Syria after capturing a third of the territory held by the militants in the area.
Lebanon's army began its operation in the Jurud Ras Baalbek and Jurud al-Qaa region early on Saturday, and in the first day captured around 30sq km of territory, a military spokesman said.
'That is around a third of the area controlled by the terrorists, Brigadier General Nazih Jreij said.
Jreij said 20 IS fighters had been killed in the clashes, and 10 Lebanese soldiers wounded.
Separately, three Lebanese soldiers were killed yesterday when a mine exploded under their vehicle in the east of the country along the border with Syria, the army said in a statement.
The soldiers were en route to participate in an operation that began Saturday to oust Islamic State group militants from an area further north on the border, an army source told AFP.
'An army vehicle was hit by a landmine on the Al-Najsa road roundabout in Jurud Arsal at noon today, killing three soldiers and injuring one soldier seriously, the army said in a statement.
It said the wounded soldier was evacuated to a hospital for treatment.
Lebanon's battle against IS comes as the militant group faces assaults in both neighbouring Syria and Iraq, where the government in Baghdad yesterday announced an offensive on the group's bastion of Tal Afar.
The attack also comes after IS claimed several international attacks, including twin car ramming incidents in Spain that killed 14 people.
Lebanese soldiers raised the Spanish flag on a hilltop captured from IS on Saturday in a tribute to the victims of those attacks, the army said.
Lebanon's military estimated around 600 IS fighters were present in the Jurud Ras Baalbek and Jurud al-Qaa areas, controlling around 120sq km of territory before Saturday's advances.
Lebanon's National News Agency yesterday reported soldiers were firing heavy artillery and rockets at IS positions in Jurud Ras Baalbek.
Security along Lebanon's eastern border with Syria has long been a concern, and in 2014 militants invaded the town of Arsal and kidnapped 30 Lebanese soldiers and police.
Four were executed by their captors while a fifth died of his wounds.
Sixteen were released in a prisoner swap in December 2015, but another nine solders are believed to remain in IS hands. It is not clear if they are alive or not.
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