Buses carrying ISIS militants started leaving the western outskirts of al-Qalamoun region in Syria on Monday towards al-Boukamal in the countryside of eastern Deir al-Zour near the Iraqi border, signaling “Hezbollah” and the Syrian regime’s completion, in record time, of the third phase of a ceasefire deal reached with the terror group to end its presence there.
“This file is now closed,” said Lebanese General Security Chief, Major General Abbas Ibrahim, who was mediating to uncover the fate of nine Lebanese soldiers abducted by the terrorists in 2014. The remains of some of the soldiers were unearthed on Sunday.
Meanwhile, ever since officials announced Sunday that the nine soldiers were killed by ISIS and after the Lebanese army said it ended its “Jurud Dawn” battle against the terrorists in Lebanon’s northeastern border region of Arsal, angry voices rose in Lebanon against allowing the militants and their families to leave the area toward the ISIS-held town of al-Boukamal, saying that the victory against the group was imperfect.
Hussein Youssef, father of the kidnapped soldier Mohammed and a spokesperson of the soldiers’ families, tearfully told Asharq Al-Awsat on Monday: “History will hold politicians, who exploited the blood of the noble soldiers, accountable for what they did. All the Lebanese know the identities of those politicians.”
A ministerial source told Asharq Al-Awsat that “Hezbollah” had previously said it refuses to negotiate with the terrorists, but it later announced that it had reached a deal with ISIS that allowed the terrorists to leave Lebanon, while the families of the kidnapped soldiers were still mourning their sons.
On the other hand, a deputy close to Hezbollah defended the choices made by the party.
“Those militants, who were allowed to leave are not prisoners or sentenced… instead of thanking ‘Hezbollah’ for saving Lebanon from terrorism, some people chose to condemn it,” MP Walid Sukkariyeh told Asharq Al-Awsat.