Syrian National Coalition vice president Nagham Ghaderi said on Tuesday that “the strong Syrian rebels will not allow Hezbollah fighters to take control of the Qalamoun,” a region north of Damascus on the Syria-Lebanon border.
“The men [rebels] in Qalamoun are not easy. They are the toughest in the Syrian revolution and the armed struggle," she told Kuwaiti newspaper al-Rai in an interview published on Tuesday.
“Hezbollah’s killing will take place in Qalamoun and no force – either Hezbollah or [the Syrian] regime – can put its hand on the [Qalamoun] region,” she added.
Ghaderi’s statement came after Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah vowed on Sunday that his group’s fighters will resume the battle in Qalamoun until Lebanon’s border is secure.
Main Syrian opposition groups such as Ahrar al Sham and the al Qaeda affiliated Nusra Front joined together in an alliance this month for what they called the “Conquest of Qalamoun Army,” in order to capture Qalamoun. Since then, skirmishes have been frequently reported between the rebels and the Syrian government.
The Syrian army, backed by Hezbollah fighters, attacked opposition bases in Qalamoun earlier this month. They claimed to have captured dozens of militants and forced the rebels to withdraw north towards Arsal, on the outskirts of Lebanon.
On Monday, Iranian-backed Hezbollah fighters captured the Talat Moussa, the highest peak in the area in the Qalamoun mountains, after confrontations with al Nusra fighters.
The Syrian regime has launched dozens of aerial bombardments of Qalamoun and its outskirts, as well as reinforcing ground forces backed by Hezbollah fighters.
The four-year-old civil war in Syria has claimed the lives of more than 220,000 people, and at least 6.7 million are internally displaced while more than 4 million have fled the country, according to UN estimates.