U.S. airstrikes block evacuation of Islamic State militants

Aug 31, 2017, 01:17
U.S. airstrikes block evacuation of Islamic State militants

"To prevent the convoy from moving further east, we cratered the road and destroyed a small bridge", Dillon said, without providing further details on their location.

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.

Lebanon has identified the bodies of six of its soldiers found along the Syrian border in an area held by Islamic State until three days ago, sources in the president's office said.

Dillon criticized Moscow and Damascus for allowing the buses of militants to travel through territory they control.

The military official said once the transfer is completed, the Lebanese army would take control of the evacuated areas.

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According to The Telegraph report, Daesh terrorists are pretending to be US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces' fighters in Raqqa to capture civilians amid the operation to free the city.

The first of the airstrikes came shortly after the US criticized a deal brokered by the Lebanese militia Hezbollah that allowed hundreds of Islamic State militants and their families free passage out of an area straddling Syria's southwestern border with Lebanon.

The deal ended a week-long offensive with the Lebanese army on one front and Hezbollah with the Syrian army on the other against IS' mountainous enclave straddling the Lebanon-Syria border.

"Irreconcilable #ISIS terrorists should be killed on the battlefield, not bused across #Syria to the Iraqi border without #Iraq's consent", wrote Brett McGurk, the U.S. presidential envoy to the anti-IS coalition. McGurk added that the anti-ISIS coalition will help ensure that "these terrorists can never" enter Iraq. What's more, the withdrawal of militants from border areas will mean that the Lebanese army will consolidate evacuated areas along the frontier.

In 2014, ISIS and al-Qaeda militants overran the Lebanese border town of Arsal, kidnapping 30 Lebanese soldiers and sending shockwaves through the country.

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Iraq, led by a Shia-majority govrnment, has been a key supporter of the battle to defeat ISIS in Syria, as well as in its own territory.

Earlier, Lebanon's President Michel Aoun hailed a "victory over terrorism". It is cooperating with the US -led coalition that has been conducting an airstrike campaign against the group since mid-2014.

His army chief, Gen Joseph Aoun, meanwhile defended the evacuation deal, saying he had wanted to find the missing soldiers and not risk any more lives. "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.

The Lebanese commander added that he cares most about the lives of his soldiers, and that one of the main achievements was to win the battle without taking further casualties. "Their souls are my responsibility", he said. Iran has been one of Assad's main backers since Syria's conflict began in March 2011.

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