The U.S. -led coalition said Wednesday it carried out airstrikes to disrupt a convoy of Islamic State militants being evacuated from the Lebanon-Syria border to an IS-held area in eastern Syria near Iraq, without targeting the evacuees themselves.
More than 48 hours after they left the Syria-Lebanon border for eastern Syria, the buses carrying 300 militants and nearly as many of their relatives were stuck in a desert area on the outskirts of the largely IS-held Deir el-Zour province near the frontier with Iraq.
"In accordance with the law of armed conflict, the coalition cratered the road heading east between Hamaymah and Abu Kamal to prevent the further transport of ISIS fighters to the border area of our Iraqi partners and struck individual vehicles and fighters that were clearly identified as ISIS".
The Syrian army and its allies are advancing eastwards through central Syria along several fronts in their own offensive towards Deir al-Zor, where a government enclave has been besieged by Islamic State for years.
Lebanese troops launched an attack against IS on August 18 while Syrian troops and Hezbollah fighters launched a simultaneous offensive from the Syrian side of the border.
Nasrallah claimed that Hezbollah fighters had "removed all the terrorists who were on the border and posed a threat to the whole of the Lebanon Valley".
Lebanese President Michel Aoun declared victory against IS on Wednesday and praised the Lebanese army for carrying out the operation. The forces then simultaneously announced a halt in fighting on Sunday, to determine the fate of nine Lebanese troops captured by ISIS in 2014.More news: YouTube's major redesign brings the service's first logo change
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The convoy being transferred into Syria included 308 militants with their small arms and 331 civilians, senior Hezbollah officials said.
It also marks the first time Islamic State has publicly agreed to a forced evacuation from territory it held in Syria.
The US has provided $1.5 billion in security assistance for Lebanon since 2006 to fight ISIS and provide a counterweight to Hezbollah.
He said the battle had cost the Hizballah 11 fighters and the Syrian regime seven soldiers.
Ms Ahmed said the SDF remains focused on the Raqqa battle for now and has no firm plans to launch an assault in Deir al-Zor province, which is further down the Euphrates towards the Iraqi frontier and remains nearly entirely under IS control.
Lebanese army General Fadi Daoud said the area had been secured, but that there was still a danger of mines laid by the jihadists. Hezbollah, which dominates Lebanese politics, makes no secret that it sends militias to fight in Syria and maintains a close alliance with Iran.