Lebanon halts anti-IS battle at Syria border

28 August, 2017, 01:15 | Author: Ora Austin
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In a short military statement, the army said the approval comes after the defeat of IS in Qalamoun, where the terror-designated group was besieged by the army and Hezbollah fighters.

The area is the last sector of the Lebanese-Syrian border under militant control. Immediately after the cease-fire was declared, the Lebanese army began talks with ISIS to uncover details regarding the missing soldiers.

Hezbollah has provided critical military support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during Syria's six-year-long war.

Head of the General Security agency Major General Abbas Ibrahim said IS fighters who had surrendered led his agency and the Lebanese army to the remains.

In a speech Thursday, meanwhile, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said that ISIS had been defeated, but that authorities were still negotiating to find out the fate of the missing soldiers.

Earlier this month, dozens of Nusra Front militants and thousands of Syrian refugees were transferred from Lebanon into rebel-held Syria in a deal negotiated between Hizbollah, the Syrian government and Nusra Front.

The assault began last week, coinciding with the Hezbollah and the Syrian army offensive in Syria's western Qalamoun region.

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In exchange for locating the bodies of the soldiers kidnapped in 2014, the militants will be evacuated to eastern Syria.

Sources from the Lebanese army, however, denied that there was any coordination between Lebanon and Hezbollah and insisted that the Lebanese Army was heading the operation from the Lebanese side of the border. It did not claim to have defeated the Islamic State.

The Syrian Air Force and Artillery inflicted heavy losses upon ISIL terrorist organization after bombarding its supply routes and positions in the neighborhoods of al-Hamidiyeh, al-Howeiqa and al-Rashdiyeh and in the villages and towns of Howeijet Saqer, al-Tibni, al-Shmaitiyeh, Aiyash, al-Kharita and al-Bhailiyeh.

The Lebanese army has been battling ISIL fighters in their last border foothold, near the town of Ras Baalbek.

"For us, the essential equation will always remain: Lebanese people, Lebanese state and Lebanese army", Geagea stressed.

"We see no evidence of substantive cooperation (between the army and Hezbollah)", the diplomat added.


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