IS militants reach eastern Syria following Lebanon deal

IS militants reach eastern Syria following Lebanon deal

The coalition is reluctant to strike the actual convoy of evacuees because the fighters have wives and children traveling with them, said a US official, who wasn't authorized to discuss military details and requested anonymity.

Officials from the United States and Kurdistan Region presidencies have separately spoken out against reports of hundreds of ISIS militants being transferred from the Syria-Lebanon border area to the northeastern Syrian-Iraqi border.

"According to an agreement between ISIL terrorists, the Lebanese Hizbollah and the Syrian regime, hundreds of ISIL militants left the Lebanese border areas and were taken with their arms and ammunition toward the Iraqi border areas", the Kurdistan Region Security Council said in a statement released on Tuesday.

The U.S. coalition strikes on Wednesday to block the convoy moving into Islamic State territory took place east of Humeima in southeast Syria, near the edge of land held by the Syrian government, coalition spokesman Ryan Dillon told Reuters.

The Lebanese Army, with help from Hezbollah and the Syrian Army, helped move 675 Islamic State fighters and their relatives in buses and ambulances.

Prime minister Haider Al Abadi said the ISIL fighters had been given free passage to the eastern border with Iraq, making them a threat to Baghdad's security. "They know that Iraqis destroyed their second biggest city [Mosul] so that Daesh fighters would not escape and Iraq's neighbors would not be harmed", he wrote in a Facebook post.

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Lebanese President Michel Aoun declared victory against IS on Wednesday and praised the Lebanese army for carrying out the operation. Lebanese officials say they are nearly sure the remains are of the soldiers.

The head of Lebanon's internal security agency says eight Lebanese soldiers who had been in captivity of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group since 2014 are nearly certainly dead.

It insisted that it was merely coincidental that both sides simultaneously began an offensive against the Islamic State over a week ago and that both sides declared a cease-fire in their fights against the militant group at about the same time on Sunday.

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

Syrian Al-Ikhbariya TV said the Syrian government approved the transfer of militants to Boukamal to facilitate the talks over the fate of the soldiers. In Syria, under separate attacks from a USA -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. "Their souls are my responsibility", Gen Aoun told reporters.

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.

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