Published: Sun, September 03, 2017
World Media | By June Phelps

Hezbollah says bulk of IS convoy has left Syrian government area

Hezbollah says bulk of IS convoy has left Syrian government area

More than 300 militants and their families were allowed to leave for Albu Kamal, a town in the Syrian province of Deir al-Zour that is 6km (4 miles) from the Iraqi border.

"It has not managed to link up with any other ISIS elements in eastern Syria", said Col Ryan Dillon, spokesman for the US-led coalition fighting ISIL.

The Hezbollah-negotiated deal angered Iraq and the USA and a convoy carrying around 300 militants and as many family members has been stuck since early this week in a government-controlled area in the desert outside Deir el-Zour province.

The coalition says it has struck Isil fighters in vehicles moving towards the convoy but will not strike any civilian vehicles.

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A convoy of ISIS militants found itself with nowhere to go after getting stuck Thursday in Syria following US -led airstrikes that blocked it in.

The evacuation convoy left the border area late on Monday to take about 600 IS fighters and their family members to territory the group controls in eastern Syria, but it was blocked from entering IS areas on Wednesday by US-led air strikes. Hezbollah and the Syrian army had escorted it from west Syria as part of a truce deal.

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A coalition statement said they had delivered a message to Damascus, via the regime's ally Russian Federation, that they will not allow the fighters to move closer to the Iraqi border and suggesting a "course of action to save the women and children from any further suffering as a result of the Syrian regime's agreement".

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The Lebanese Hezbollah group, which negotiated the controversial agreement, said it had received the body of Mohsen Hojaji and would conduct DNA tests before sending his remains onward to Iran.

In a recorded speech, Nasrallah told his listeners how he drove to Damascus in order to meet with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and discuss the expulsion of ISIS from the region.

The standoff came as government and allied troops were advancing in the desert area on the edges of oil-rich Deir el-Zour province, which is mostly controlled by IS. Syrian government forces control part of the provincial capital of the same name and its airport, but have been besieged by IS for years.

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