BAALBEK, Lebanon: A Lebanese soldier and eight militants were killed Thursday in clashes with extremist fighters on the outskirts of Lebanon’s northeastern border, a security source told The Daily Star.

The source said that clashes ignited at dawn when ISIS attacked army posts on the outskirts of Wadi Rafeq, midway between Ras Baalbek and Al-Qaa. The military was on alert, having previously obtained information on the imminent attack.

Accompanied by helicopters, the army later managed to take control of a hilltop in the area known as Tallet 46, inflicting heavy losses on the extremist group.

AFP reported that eight gunmen were killed in the clashes.

The attack resulted in the death of soldier Mohammad Houssam As-Sayed Al-Sebsebi from the town of Bibnine in the northern district of Akkar. Eight others were admitted to nearby hospitals for sustaining wounds.

The Lebanese Army later issued a statement saying that the 23-year-old Sebsebi was killed during clashes, after a preemptive strike by the military against a “terrorist group” in the area.

The army operates a string of bases and observation posts in the area, from Naamat on the northern border to just south of Arsal, providing a strong defensive line against the militants in the mountains to the east.

There are an estimated 3,000 militants in the northeastern mountain chain, most of whom are either affiliated with ISIS, which is mainly deployed opposite Ras Baalbek, or with the Nusra Front, which operates further south, across from Arsal.

Source: The Daily Star, AFP