QALAMOUN, Lebanon — Cellphones have been confiscated, and vehicles have been searched. The large group of Lebanese and foreign media representatives make their way across the border from the Lebanese Bekaa Valley into the Syrian Qalamoun region. Until recently, this mountainous area had been under the control of Jabhat al-Nusra and other armed militant groups. Now, after fierce battles that began May 6, Hezbollah fighters roam the territory, and military vehicles pass by bearing yellow flags with an image of the group's late Cmdr. Imad Mughniyeh. It is a sight that Hezbollah wants the world to see, which is why it organized this rare media field trip for May 15. Its media relations office informed the news outlets about the opportunity the night before.
The Hezbollah commander in charge of the military operations in the area is introduced. “No filming,” the organizers order. “You can only take notes.” The commander proceeds to give a short briefing about the geography of the areas that had experienced recent fighting, pointing to the mountaintops that Hezbollah had taken.