Buses evacuate Islamic State fighters from key border region

Posted August 31, 2017

US -led warplanes on Wednesday blocked a convoy of Islamic State fighters and their families from reaching territory the group holds in east Syria and struck a group of their comrades travelling to meet them, a coalition spokesman said.

A US official on Wednesday blasted a deal that led to the evacuation of hundreds of Islamic State group fighters and civilians from the Lebanon-Syria border to areas close to Iraq, saying the extremists should be killed on the battlefield.

The coalition said it had not hit the convoy, but "cratered" a road in east Syria and bombed IS vehicles nearby.

During the one-month long fight against Takfiri terrorists, the Lebanese people in particular those in the borders showed their steadfastness in fighting terrorists.

Buses carrying Daesh fighters and their families departed western Syria on Tuesday bound for territory the group controls near the Iraqi border.

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"In accordance with the law of armed conflict, the coalition will take action against ISIS whenever and wherever we are able to without harming civilians", it said. Lebanese officials say they are nearly sure the remains are of the soldiers.

In separate comments reported by the New York Times, Col. Ryan Dillon, spokesman for the coalition, said that "those would be absolutely lucrative targets", a thinly veiled threat that the ISIS fighters could be targeted by airstrikes.

"Honestly speaking, we are unhappy and consider it incorrect", Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told reporters Tuesday.

Hezbollah - a Shia Muslim political and military organization in Lebanon which the USA has designated a terrorist organization - had brokered an agreement with IS militants, giving them a safe passage from an enclave on the Syrian border with Lebanon to IS-held territory near the Iraqi border.

"We have long expressed our concerns about Hezbollah's military operations in Lebanon, which violate UN Security Council Resolution 1701 by defying the global community's call to disarm", they added. "Either to go on with the battle and not know the fate of the soldiers, or give in and know the fate of the soldiers", he said.

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His comments came in a speech in which he declared Hezbollah victory in the war against ISIS on the Leabanese border with Syria.

The US has provided $1.5 billion in security assistance for Lebanon since 2006 to fight ISIS and provide a counterweight to Hezbollah.

Lebanese army General Fadi Daoud said the area had been secured, but that there was still a danger of mines laid by the jihadists.

"The negotiations have laid bare the close links between [Islamic State], the Iranian-backed Hezbollah and the Assad regime as well as the complicity of the three parties in the spread of terrorism in Syria and Lebanon", Syria's main opposition group said in a statement.

Iran has been one of Assad's main backers since Syria's crisis began in March 2011.

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