After deal, ISIS allowed to leave Syria-Lebanon border area

2017-08-28 21:27


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Ras Baalbek - Islamic State militants and their families began to evacuate on Monday from a border area between Lebanon and Syria as part of a negotiated deal to end the group's presence there, Lebanese and Syrian media reported.

An unidentified number of militants and their families headed in buses toward a town held by the extremist group in eastern Syria, near the border with Iraq.

The transfer comes nearly a week after Lebanon launched a military campaign to drive IS from the rugged mountainous area along its border with Syria.

Separately but simultaneously, the Syrian army and the Lebanese Hezbollah militia began carrying out their own offensive to pressure ISIS on the Syrian side of the border. Hezbollah has been fighting alongside President Bashar Assad's forces in Syria since 2013.

Nearly two dozen buses and 11 ambulances carried the militants and their families from the area straddling the Syria-Lebanon border, toward the ISIS-held Boukamal in eastern Syria, along the border with Iraq.

Syrian Al-Ikhbariya TV reported that there were about 250 militants in the transfer. The Central Military Centre, a media outlet run by Hezbollah, said ambulances ferried 25 ISIS wounded fighters from the area.

The transfer of the militants is part of a deal that came into effect following negotiations, led by Hezbollah, to determine the fate of nine Lebanese soldiers who were kidnapped by ISIS in 2014.

On Sunday, the Lebanese army, on one side, and Hezbollah and the Syrian army on another, declared separate but simultaneous cease-fires. Shortly afterward, the remains of eight soldiers were located and dug out from the ground in an area near the border with Syria. The fate of one soldier remains unclear. The bodies of five Hezbollah fighters killed in fighting the militants were also handed over, allowing for the transfer of militants.

Al-Ikhbariya said the Syrian government approved the transfer of militants to Boukamal to facilitate the talks over the fate of the soldiers.

Read more on:    isis  |  lebanon  |  syria  |  syria conflict

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