USA disrupts evacuation of IS militants in Syria

A man walks past a banner reading Pray for Deir Ezzor at the migrant camp outside Calais known as the Jungle in 2015

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

He did not know if the evacuation convoy, which contains buses of fighters and their family members, as well as ambulances carrying wounded fighters, was now in Islamic State or Syrian government territory.

The coalition said it did not strike the Daesh convoy but severely damaged the road it was using while also confirming that it hit "individual vehicles and fighters" that had been identified as Daesh.

The Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, had been surrounded by Lebanese and Syrian forces on both sides of the border and made the deal to win the freedom of its fighters in exchange for turning over the bodies of nine Lebanese soldiers taken prisoner in 2014.

"Irreconcilable ISIS terrorists should be killed on the battlefield, not bussed across Syria to the Iraqi border without Iraq's consent", he wrote on Twitter.

After a meeting with President Michel Aoun, the army commander congratulated the military on "its victory against terrorism" and offered his condolences to the families of fallen soldiers.

"To know the fate of the [kidnapped] soldiers was the goal of the battle, and we have achieved that".

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Earlier, a Lebanese army source told AFP that no convoys would leave the area until DNA tests had been carried out on bodies found in the region at the weekend, believed to be the remains of eight Lebanese soldiers IS kidnapped in 2014.

"We have long expressed our concerns about Hezbollah's military operations in Lebanon, which violate UN Security Council Resolution 1701 by defying the worldwide community's call to disarm", they added.

He said it would allow hundreds of fighters to deploy along an "insecure" border, close to three Iraqi desert towns still under ISIL control.

A US State Department spokesperson told PRI that "the Lebanese Armed Forces has been successfully defending Lebanon's borders and fighting ISIS and other extremists on the front lines".

"We fight the terrorists in Iraq", he said in a speech on Tuesday.

Lebanese army General Fadi Daoud said the area had been secured, but that there was still a danger of mines laid by the jihadists. USA officials said Lebanon's military, which enjoys broad confidence from the public, was the only institution stable and credible enough to hold together the country's delicate political situation.

The Syrian government, backed by Russian air power and Iranian-organized militias including Hezbollah, has focused its military campaign in recent weeks on Deir el-Zour, where government troops have been besieged for years in the provincial capital. Iran has been one of Assad's main backers since Syria's conflict began in March 2011.

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