US-led warplanes have struck a road being used by a convoy of Daesh terrorists and their families to reach eastern Syria in an apparent attempt to torpedo an agreement between Lebanon and the militant group aimed at cleansing the joint Syrian-Lebanese border of Takfiri terrorists.
Reuters quoted coalition spokesman Ryan Dillon as saying that the air raids took place on Wednesday east of the Humeima district, on the border between Syria’s Homs and Dayr al-Zawr provinces.
The convoy was leaving Lebanon-Syria border regions through the road in Humeima, which leads eastward to the Daesh-controlled Syrian town of Albukamal near the Iraqi border.
“We did crater the road and destroyed a small bridge to prevent this convoy from moving further east,” Dillon told Reuters by phone.
The evacuation was part of a deal reached last week between the Lebanese army and Hezbollah, on the one hand, and Daesh, on the other, in coordination with Syrian leadership following successful military operations against terrorist concentrations on Lebanon-Syria border.
Under the deal, 308 Daesh militants and 331 civilians were evacuated from the frontier and bussed to Syria’s eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr, in exchange for information on the fate of nine Lebanese soldiers kidnapped by Daesh in 2014.
The deal was meant to help push the pockets of Takfiri terrorists from Lebanon-Syria border into a Daesh-held enclave in Syria so the Lebanese resistance fighters and Syrian government troops operating there could press them more easily.
Dillon, however, stressed that the US-led coalition does not recognize the evacuation deal, noting, “In accordance with the law of armed conflict … we will strike them if we are able to do so.” He later said the coalition’s warplanes had hit vehicles containing Daesh militants that were heading from a different direction deeper inside the territory they control to that area.
According to Hezbollah, the convoy is now effectively stranded and unable to move forward into the Daesh-controlled territory.
A Syrian military commander said the army is considering an alternative route for the convoy to cross into the Daesh-controlled area.
“Now things are moving to change the place from Humeima and head north towards Sukhna,” the commander said.
The evacuation deal has been praised by Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun as the country’s “victory against terrorism.”
The agreement, however, has come under criticism by the Iraqi government, which is involved in its own operation against Daesh terrorists in the country.
Baghdad argues that the deal endangers the security of Iraq as the relocation of Daesh terrorists to an area near the Iraqi border could pave the ground for further spillover of terrorism into Iraq’s territory.
However, Secretary General of the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on Wednesday defended the deal and said the small group of terrorists was merely transferred “from one of our battle fronts to the other.”
In the statement aimed at assuaging the concerns of the Iraqi government, Nasrallah noted that Daesh members who had been evacuated from Lebanon to Syria’s east were “defeated elements” and had no further thrust to fight, adding that some 310 terrorists could not “change the equation” in an area that is believed to be home to tens of thousands of Daesh operatives.
In recent months, Daesh has been taking heavy blow from the Syrian and Iraqi armed forces, losing swathes of its territory and its most important towns and cities in the two countries.
The Lebanese army launched a long-anticipated battle on August 8 to clear its border regions from Daesh. Hezbollah and the Syrian army also contributed to the battle on the other side of the border in Syria.
The fight ended when the terrorists were encircled in a small strip of land and accepted to locate bodies of nine abducted Lebanese soldiers in return for the evacuation of members to a Daesh stronghold in eastern Syria.
The August operation came on the back of a successful Hezbollah military offensive a month earlier against Takfiri elements on the outskirts of Lebanon’s northeastern border town of Arsal.
For nearly six years now, Hezbollah has been assisting Syria’s government in the fight against terrorists in a bid to prevent a spillover of violence into Lebanon. The group launched an operation last month to recapture areas from other terror groups in Lebanese regions near the Syrian border.