Led airstrikes block IS evacuees from reaching eastern Syria

Geneva Matthews
August 31, 2017

"We are monitoring their location in real time", he said, adding that the coalition "will not rule out strikes against ISIS fighters being moved".

In response to an inquiry from The Jerusalem Post, the US-led coalition condemned the "agreement between Lebanese Hezbollah and ISIS" that has allowed hundreds of ISIS fighters and families to be bused through Syrian regime controlled regions to an area near Iraq.

The convoy of buses and ambulances carrying hundreds of armed jihadists and their families, escorted by the Syrian military, left the border region on Monday.

Later Wednesday, the coalition said its warplanes struck a small bridge and cratered a road to hinder the convoy without targeting the evacuees.

Hezbollah, a Shiite movement founded in the 1980s to fight the Israeli occupation of Lebanon, joined the war in Syria early on to shore up its ally, President Bashar al-Assad, and retain a supply line that runs from Iran to Lebanon.

The ceasefire halted separate, dual assaults against ISIS waged by the Lebanese army on its side of the border and Hezbollah from the Syrian side.

On August 19 the Lebanese army announced the start of an offensive against Islamic State militants holed up in areas at the outskirts of the eastern towns of Ras Baalbeck and al-Qaa, close the Syrian border.

On Wednesday morning, Lebanon's President Michel Aoun hailed the country's "victory over terrorism" and said its citizens could "be proud of their army".

The Trump administration, however, said it changed its tactics in the fight against the terrorist group.

But many in Lebanon were opposed to the deal, which they said allowed the killers of Lebanese soldiers to get off scot-free.

Children escaping from the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, which has been held by Islamic State (IS) militants since 2014, have been "tormented" by years of living under the extremists' rule, a USA -based charity says.

Nine Lebanese soldiers were taken as captives following battles in 2014 in north-east Lebanon.

Having pushed into the city in June after months of encircling it, the SDF alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias is fighting in the heart of Raqqa, assisted by air strikes and special forces from the US-led coalition. In Syria, under separate attacks from a US -led coalition and from the Russian-backed Syrian army, it is falling back on its strongholds along the Euphrates valley east of Raqqa, the de facto capital of the caliphate it declared in 2014. "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", Aoun said. "Their souls are my responsibility", he told reporters.

The end game is "to make it tougher for the Coalition to capture Deir al-Zor province from ISIL, by relocating their fighters there" the defence expert said.

Other reports by VideoGamingPros

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