USA coalition blocks roadway of Daesh convoy
- Author: Rogelio Becker Aug 31, 2017,
Aug 31, 2017, 1:06
Coalition spokesman Col. Ryan Dillon told The Associated Press the coalition has already struck a small bridge and punched a crater in a road to keep them from moving further east toward the border with Iraq.
The US-led coalition has carried out an air strike to block ISIL fighters evacuated from Lebanon from reaching eastern Syria, its spokesman said on Wednesday.
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.
The coalition nevertheless said in a statement that it is not bound by the evacuation agreement. "In accordance with the law of armed conflict. we will strike them if we are able to do so".
USA officials have criticized the transfer of hundreds of militants and civilians who are bound for an IS-held area near the Iraqi border, saying the extremists should be killed on the battlefield.
Iraqis have denounced a Hezbollah- and Syria-backed deal allowing ISIL fighters to evacuate a Syrian-Lebanese frontier region towards the Iraqi 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 USA presidential envoy to the anti-IS coalition.
Almost two dozen buses and 11 ambulances carried the militants and their families Monday from the area straddling the Syria-Lebanon border toward the Islamic State-held town of Boukamal in eastern Syria. He said a ceasefire was instituted only "at the last hour", when ISIS agreed to surrender totally and, most importantly, to disclose the fate and location of several Lebanese soldiers kidnapped in 2014, among other concessions.
But many in Lebanon were opposed to the deal, which they said allowed the killers of Lebanese soldiers to get off scot-free. "We do not send them to Syria", he said in a speech. "If a soldier doesn't go into each room, clear it, and mark it as safe, then we can't say that we're done".
On Wednesday morning, Lebanon's President Michel Aoun hailed the country's "victory over terrorism" and said its citizens could "be proud of their army".
"I had one of two choices. Their souls are my responsibility", he told reporters. State media gave no further details.
The parliamentary bloc of Prime Minister Saad Hariri slammed Hezbollah, saying it orchestrated the agreement to ensure the escape of IS militants in return for the remains of Hezbollah fighters and a member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards killed in Syria.