BEIRUT - At least 16 Sunni Muslim insurgents from al-Qaida’s Syrian wing were killed in clashes with fighters from the Lebanese Shi'ite group Hezbollah in eastern Lebanon on Sunday, a source close to Hezbollah said.
Hundreds of insurgents linked to al-Qaida’s Syrian wing, the Nusra Front, had launched a major offensive on Sunday on Hezbollah-controlled areas near the Lebanese town of Arsal, close to the Syrian border. Hezbollah had called on fighters to mobilize to defend the area, they added.
“There are at least 16 dead from Nusra Front,” the source said, adding that Hezbollah fighters from other parts of Lebanon had gone to defend the area.
Fighters from the Lebanese group have been aiding President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian civil war, fighting groups such as al-Qaida's Nusra Front and Islamic State group, which has seized tracts of land in Syria and Iraq.
Violence from Syria has often spread into Arsal and surrounding areas, where the Lebanese army has also battled insurgents.
In August Islamic State militants and Nusra Front fighters stormed Arsal in the worst spillover of Syria's war into its neighbor to date, killing and capturing members of the Lebanese military.
They have since killed at least three of the captive soldiers.