Lebanese troops on the offensive against ISIS, or the Islamic State, along the Syrian-Lebanese border raised the Spanish flag over reconquered territory to honor the victims of the Barcelona truck attack last week. Lebanese troops are pushing against Islamic State forces that had spilled into Lebanon, using the country as a base for operations inside neighboring Syria.
The photograph of the flag was widely circulated on social media and was released by the Lebanese army, a force that is supported by the United States. On August 14, new equipment from the U.S. arrived in Lebanon, including heavy vehicles, artillery, and ammunition.
IS forces invaded Lebanon in 2014-15 and established a base of operations in the Bekaa Valley, a fertile rural region of Lebanon long under Syria’s influence. It is also the home of Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed military group now fighting in the civil war. Using villages in Syria, IS established a cross-border outpost that allowed it to influence and launch attacks in both Lebanon and Syria.
However, once the major rebel stronghold of Aleppo fell northward, Syria’s army was freed up to launch an offensive against IS along its border with Lebanon. That, in turn, freed the Lebanese army to begin its own operations in conjunction with Hezbollah to clear the group of out the Bekaa Valley.
The anti-IS struggle has produced strange bedfellows, with the nominally secular Lebanese army just the latest to join the many offensives against the group. IS is rapidly losing ground everywhere, having lost Mosul, its largest city, to Iraq’s army earlier this year, while its self-declared capital city, Raqqa, is under siege by the Syrian Democratic Forces, an American-backed outfit.
Syria’s Assadist army is also on an offensive against the group in Syria’s center, moving to relieve forces under siege by the group for years along the Euphrates River valley. Meanwhile, Iraqi forces are preparing to eject IS from Iraq permanently at Tal Afar on the Syrian-Iraqi border.
IS claimed responsibility for the truck attack in Barcelona last week, which killed at least 15 people. The driver of that vehicle was killed by Spanish security forces earlier today.
[Featured image by Salah Malkawi/Getty Images]