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Led strikes in Syria block IS militants evacuated from Lebanon

Led strikes in Syria block IS militants evacuated from Lebanon”

A convoy of buses and ambulances evacuated hundreds of Islamic State fighters and their families from the Lebanon-Syria border region after an unprecedented deal was struck this week.

Col. Ryan Dillon says Wednesday's airstrike hit vehicles identified as belonging to IS that were traveling from IS-held territory toward the convoy.

"The coalition, we are not party to this agreement between Lebanon, Hezbollah and ISIS", he said.

The U.S. -led alliance said it ordered airstrikes along certain roads to prevent the IS convoy from arriving in the militant group's transfer.

He added that any strike will be in "accordance of the law of armed conflict and if we are able to do so and can discriminate and discern the difference between fighters and civilians".

The cease-fire paved the way for Hezbollah to broker the evacuation deal for the ISIS militants to be bused from a border crossing in Syria's western Qalamoun region to the militant-held town of al-Bukamal in eastern Deir Ezzor.

The recent victory and the Lebanese security forces' control over volatile borders is in fact a historic one because this is the first time that Daesh make agreement with a foe to leave the battlefield and in the meantime, Lebanon is the first Syria neighbor that succeeded to liberate all its borders.

"Irreconcilable #ISIS terrorists should be killed on the battlefield, not bused across #Syria to the Iraqi border without #Iraq's consent", President Donald Trump's anti-Daesh coalition envoy Brett McGurk tweeted Wednesday.

"Our coalition will help ensure that these terrorists can never enter Iraq or escape from what remains of their dwindling "caliphate," McGurk added".

But Lebanon's move to halt the fight after IS was squeezed into a small sliver on the border and then let the militants flee has further alarmed Washington.

General Joseph Aoun, the commander of the Lebanese army, gave a speech following the president's and said the decision to negotiate with ISIL was made to preserve the lives of Lebanese civilians and soldiers. Dillon also told the AP the USA military had already struck a bridge to delay the convoy.

The remains of several people have been uncovered in the border area, and DNA tests are underway to determine whether they belong to the missing soldiers.

"Our only consolation is that we knew the fate of the soldiers", he said.

The battle to oust Islamic State from its stronghold in the Syrian city of Raqqa should end within two months, a top-ranking Kurdish commander told Reuters, but said she expects the fighting to intensify.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed that there was a delay but did not specify why and Syrian military sources reached by AFP declined to comment. The Assad regime has faced accusations that it has allowed ISIS to prosper and grow in eastern Syria amid six years of civil war.



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