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Evacuating IS convoy said to move ahead despite USA strike threat

Evacuating IS convoy said to move ahead despite USA strike threat

Meanwhile, in central Syria, government forces captured wide areas from IS under the cover of Russian airstrikes forcing hundreds of people to flee to government-controlled areas as well as areas run by insurgent groups.

More than 300 militants and their families are in the convoy of buses after vacating the border area as part of a Hezbollah-negotiated deal to transport them to an IS-held town in eastern Syria near the Iraqi border.

Qarat fell during a joint weeklong offensive between Syria's army and Lebanon's Hezbollah to oust the militants from an area that straddles the Syria-Lebanon border.

UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura said last month that he hoped to launch "real, substantive" peace talks between the government and a still-to-be-formed unified Syrian opposition in October.

Lebanese political movement Hezbollah warns that if the global coalition continues blocking buses transporting Daesh militants and their relatives, people are doomed to die.

In a statement released by the party's Media Relations Office, Hezbollah said: "Up to this moment, US-led warplanes are still blocking buses carrying ISIS militants and their families, who left the Syrian government-held territories". Isil fighters are Sunni Muslims who consider Shia to be apostates - and thus deserving of murder. It said last Friday that the convoy was still in government-held territory.

Rami Abdurrahman, head of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said dozens of fighters abandoned the buses and drove into parts of Deir al-Zor.

More than ISIL 300 fighters were allowed to leave the area with their families this week as part of a surrender deal but the convoy of buses carrying them to the ISIL-held town of Albu Kamal on the border with Iraq was prevented from going there by USA air strikes along its route.

It has asked Russian Federation to tell the Syrian government that it will not allow the convoy to move further east towards the Iraqi border, according to a statement issued late last Friday.

Instead, the US military on Wednesday intervened, having the road bombed ahead of the convoy, preventing it from reaching its destination, the town of Bukamal, near the Iraqi border.

"The coalition will not condone Isis [IS] fighters moving further east to the Iraqi border", the coalition said in a statement.

Israel views the presence of ISIS in Syria as being less a threat than Iran's rapid forward movement in that region, Lankford said before the Edmond Area Chamber of Commerce this week.


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