BEIRUT, LEBANON (7:00 P.M.) – Several reports emerged on Wednesday that Lebanese Hezbollah movement officials are in talks with commanders of Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS, Syrian Al-Qaeda branch) jihadist group over evacuation of the latter’s militants from Jaroud Arsal area in west Qalamoun near the border between Lebanon and Syria.
According to sources, Hezbollah has offered HTS an agreement which will allow jihadists to leave Qalamoun region and evacuate towards north Syria.
As an incentive, Hezbollah has reportedly offered HTS money and is ready to release some of jihadists captured earlier in Lebanon. In return, HTS is supposed to release captive Hezbollah fighters and depart for northern regions of Syria.
In case of settling this agreement, there will be only one jihadist pocket left in the border area of Jaroud Arsal, namely that of the so-called “Islamic state” (IS, formerly ISIL/ISIS).
IS jihadists are unlikely to agree to a similar evacuation deal, which means that Hezbollah might well be preparing a major operation in Jaroud Arsal that will have this area completely cleared off militants and secured.