USA campaign to cause new conflicts in Syria
- Author: Tracy Klein Aug 31, 2017,
Aug 31, 2017, 1:13
US airstrikes blocked the advance of an Islamic State convoy carrying militants toward Iraq on Wednesday, derailing a Hezbollah-negotiated deal that removed the extremists from the Lebanon-Syria border, where they have been for years.
"To prevent the convoy from moving further east, we cratered the road and destroyed a small bridge", US Army Col. Ryan Dillon, spokesman for the anti-ISIS coalition, told the Agence France-Presse.
The convoy of buses and ambulances left the border region on Monday after a ceasefire took effect on Sunday.
The coalition also said vows from the Syrian government and its allies to combat IS "ring hollow when they cut deals with and allow terrorists to transit territory under their control".
The coalition nevertheless said in a statement that it is not bound by the evacuation agreement.
"The selfish ally is throwing Daesh from Lebanon into Iraq", he said, using an Arabic acronym for the group. "So if we do identify and find ISIS fighters who have weapons - and like I said, we can discriminate between civilians and ISIS fighters - we will strike when we can".
The cease-fire paved the way for Hezbollah to broker the evacuation deal for the ISIS militants to be bused from a border crossing in Syria's western Qalamoun region to the militant-held town of al-Bukamal in eastern Deir Ezzor.
Iraqis have denounced a Hezbollah- and Syria-backed deal allowing ISIL fighters to evacuate a Syrian-Lebanese frontier region towards the Iraqi border.
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.
Lebanon's security chief Abbas Ibrahim defended the ceasefire agreement on Monday saying security forces were not seeking revenge or bloodshed, but had set out to "liberate" Lebanese soil from IS militants and reveal the fate of the kidnapped soldiers.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun declared victory against IS Wednesday in a live statement form the presidential palace. Remains of several people have been uncovered in the border area, and DNA tests are underway to determine whether they belong to the missing soldiers. "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".
"We consider it an insult to the Iraqi people", he said on Tuesday. "We don't expel them to Syria; we kill them in Iraq", Abadi said. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, based in London, reported on Wednesday that 64 combatants had been killed in the past 24 hours, and 150 in the past six days.
In the Syrian capital Damascus, President Bashar Assad received Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Jaberi Ansari who is on a visit to Syria.