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Syrian rebels and refugees leave Lebanese border for Idlib

04 August, 2017, 00:14 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • 9000 Syrians, including jihadists, cross from Lebanon to Syria in ceasefire deal

The fighting ended with a cease-fire Thursday for negotiations to allow refugees, fighters, and family members to leave to Idlib province and the central Qalamoun region.

The ceasefire took effect last week, just days after Shi'ite Hezbollah and the Syrian army launched an offensive to drive Nusra Front and other Sunni militants from their last foothold in the border area between Lebanon and Syria.

Hezbollah's victory and the huge evacuation brings President Assad a step closer to regaining control over what his allies call "useful Syria", the belt of urbanised territory running from the capital Damascus to the coast and the northern city of Aleppo.

In exchange, the jihadist group released two Hezbollah fighters, an AFP correspondent said, adding that they arrived in Red Crescent vehicles in the area of Al-Saan in central Hama province.

The withdrawal followed Hezbollah's recent gains in fighting against Syrian militants in Aarsal, a major arms and gunmen smuggling hub.

Hezbollah fighters have now moved into the areas after terrorists of Nusra Front, now known as Fateh al-Sham Front, withdrew following a series of consecutive defeats, which forced them to agree to a ceasefire.

The three Hezbollah fighters were released shortly after midnight Wednesday by HTS in return for the release of three al-Qaida fighters who were held in Lebanon.

It declared a ceasefire on Thursday, having taken over most of the area.




Tens of thousands of Syrian refugees are expected to stay in Lebanon's eastern border region for the near future, as a multilateral effort to resettle several thousand of them ran into further delays on Tuesday.

The Lebanese army has been primarily engaged in a fight against ISIS positions in the area of Ras Baalbek near the Syrian border. It now leads the Sham Liberation Organisation in the Syrian war.

The militants and civilians final destination will be the jihadi-held part of northwestern Syria, according to an agreement between Lebanon, Syria, Hezbollah, and Syria's al-Qaida affiliate.

The Lebanese army, which receives considerable U.S. and British military support, did not take an active part in the operation, setting up defensive positions around Arsal.

For his part, Amir-Abdollahian congratulated Hezbollah leader, Lebanese people, parliament and government on the 11th anniversary of Lebanon's victory against "Israel" in the 33-Day War.

In territory that Hezbollah's forces captured in northeastern Lebanon last week, "nowhere was there any evidence of the Lebanese state", correspondents for The Washington Post reported on Saturday.

Journalists look at parked buses that will transfer Nusra Front militants in Jroud Arsal, Syria-Lebanon border, July 31, 2017.

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