TEL AVIV – Islamist forces armed and aided by Saudi Arabia are poised for a massive battle in the coming days targeting the Syrian regime and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah organization, according to Egyptian security officials speaking to WND.
The officials said the Saudis have directed the Islamist forces, including the Al Nusra Front, to lead an imminent counterinsurgency focusing on the Syria-Lebanon border, with particular emphasis on the Qalamoun region.
Qalamoun is a strategic site that serves as a supply line to Damascus from Lebanon. Control of the area would give the rebels a base of operations to target Damascus.
The Egyptian officials expect the new confrontation to be bloody and to rival a similar battle for the region staged by Al Nusra in November 2013.
WND reported earlier this month that Hezbollah in Lebanon believes ISIS is planning major offensives, beginning in April, against the Lebanese army, which has been launching preemptive attacks along the Lebanese border with Syria.
The Egyptian security officials said the Saudis are massively stepping up their support for the Syrian rebels in light of the most recent events in Yemen, where the pro-Saudi government has fallen.
According to media reports, Saudi Arabia has moved heavy military equipment, including artillery to areas near its border with Yemen.
[Update: Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the U.S., Adel al-Jubeir, announced Wednesday night in a rare news conference that a military campaign had been launched by his country against Iran-backed rebel forces in Yemen, the New York Times reported. The Saudi action is in conjunction with a coalition of about 10 other nations opposed to the advancement of Shiite Houthi forces. Jubeir said the U.S. was not participating in airstrikes. “We will do whatever it takes to protect the legitimate government of Yemen,” said Jubeir.]
Now the Saudis are looking to expand their areas of influence by enhancing their support for the rebels seeking to topple the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
While ISIS has received much attention in Syria of late, it has been the Nusra Front, Syria’s al-Qaida affiliate, that has gained major territory from the Turkish border to central and southern Syria. Al Nusra has also consolidated territory in the Golan Heights, near the border with Israel.
Al Nusra and ISIS are political rivals even though they share similar Islamic ideology. ISIS helped to form the Al Nusra Front, but the al-Qaida affiliates went separate ways in 2013 following a power struggle.