After a battle broke out between the Islamic State group and Hezbollah along Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, Hezbollah's leader declared Wednesday it would "finish" the fight. Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah addressed the attacks that began on Tuesday in a televised speech.
“The battle with ISIS in Qalamoun has started,” Nasrallah said, the Daily Star of Beirut reported. “They started the battle. No problem. We will finish it.”
Hezbollah gunmen held off an attack from ISIS in the mountainous region near the Syria-Lebanon border on Tuesday, the group's television station reported, according to the Associated Press. The station said several ISIS fighters died in the fight and that a number of their vehicles were destroyed. It did not report if there were any casualties among Hezbollah fighters. At least eight Hezbollah fighters died in the fighting, while 48 ISIS fighters died, according to the Daily Star.
"Yesterday's attacks hit several targets, but Hezbollah fighters were brave in their response and scored several casualties and destroyed a lot of their vehicles," Nasrallah said. "We will continue [with the battle] until all terrorists are uprooted. We confirm that we will not let any terrorist remain on the outskirts," he added.
Hezbollah, which has been fighting alongside the government of President Bashar Assad in the Syrian war, captured several locations Sunday from the Syrian branch of al Qaeda -- called the Nusra Front -- around the outskirts of Arsal, Lebanon. Hezbollah, considered a terrorist group by the U.S., has been on the offensive to remove the Sunni jihadis of Nusra and ISIS from the Qalamoun mountain region for weeks.
With the gains against the Nusra Front, a major battle between ISIS and Hezbollah is expected, the AP reported. The total area being contested in the region is about 390 square miles, and ISIS controls about 130 square miles of territory in Lebanon.