As the battle for the Qalamoun Mountains concludes, Hezbollah is preparing to shift its focus to the remaining Syrian border-crossings into Lebanon, leaving the state of Israel on high alert due to the presence of the Lebanese Resistance at its northeastern border.
The Qalamoun Mountains offensive was an imperative military endeavor for the Syrian Armed Forces and Hezbollah because of the large presence of militants from the Syrian Al-Qaeda group “Jabhat Al-Nusra” and the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) that utilize the border-crossings to resupply their entrenched combatants in western Syria.
With only a small parcel of territory left to capture at the Qalamoun Mountains, Hezbollah and the Syrian Armed Forces will begin to transfer their fighters to the integral Al-Zabadani front, where a number of brigades from the Syrian Arab Army’s 4th Mechanized Division are currently embedded along the steep slopes of the Western Mountains.
The Al-Zabadani border-crossing into the Nahle Municipality of Lebanon is a key point for Hezbollah, as this area was once used as a supply route due to its proximity to their stronghold in the Nabitiyah Governorate.
For the state of Israel, Hezbollah’s large-scale participation in the Al-Zabadani battle could be a potential red-line due to the city’s southern most point only measuring 30km from the U.N. Ceasefire Line in the Golan Heights.
Part of the contingency for the Lebanese Resistance is to eventually advance towards the contested Sheba’a Farms near the Al-Quneitra Governorate; this could have major implications in the future, as the Israeli Military Intelligence will have to not only deal with a Hezbollah presence at their northern border, but also, the growing presence of the aforementioned at their eastern border.
Hezbollah was as close as 10km from the Syrian-Israeli border in Al-Quneitra in March, but since then, they have moved most of their fighters from the city of Al-Hamidiyah to the vast Qalamoun Mountains in order to begin their offensive; however, Israel did infuriate the Lebanese Resistance in early 2015 after their assassination of Jihad Moughaniyah and three other Hezbollah members in the Al-Quneitra Governorate.
Will Israel intervene as Hezbollah inches closer to a new frontier in the Syrian Conflict? It still remains unknown; but, one thing is for sure, Hezbollah’s participation has forced Israel to boost its support for the Islamist fighters combatting the Lebanese Resistance and the Syrian Armed Forces.