Ceasefire begins in Islamic State pocket at Syria-Lebanon border


Islamic State pocket straddling Syria-Lebanon border surrenders as cease-fire takes effect, Lebanese military officials say • Syrian army, Hezbollah announce a cease-fire in assault on ISIS • Hezbollah footage shows Iranian drones strike ISIS targets.

In a short military statement, the army said the approval comes after the defeat of IS in Qalamoun, where the terror-designated group was besieged by the army and Hezbollah fighters.

According to the Lebanese television network Al-Manar, the Lebanese army had declared a cease-fire in order to negotiate the fate of 9 Lebanese soldiers who were captured by ISIS in 2014.

But on Sunday, the Lebanese government was likely to be under increased pressure to co-ordinate with Damascus as Syrian state media announced that Hizbollah and the Syrian government had reached a deal with ISIL fighters inside Syria.

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Backed by Hezbollah, the army on August 19 began a long-anticipated operation in Jurud Ras Baalbek and Jurud al-Qaa areas on Lebanon's eastern border.

The military operation, codenamed Fajr Al-Jroud, led to restoration of 100 sq.km. from the 120 sq.km. area previously controlled by IS.

Northeastern Lebanon was the scene of one of the worst spillovers of Syria's war into Lebanon in 2014, when Islamic State and Nusra Front militants attacked the town of Arsal. He said DNA tests will be carried out to determine the identity of the soldiers.

Hizballah has played a key role in fighting Sunni militants along the border during Syria's six-year war and has sent thousands of fighters to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

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The deal was also a departure from previous Lebanese government policy toward Syrian refugees, which had held that returns to Syria would only be facilitated by Beirut if they were approved by the United Nations.

The Syrian Air Force and Artillery inflicted heavy losses upon ISIL terrorist organization after bombarding its supply routes and positions in the neighborhoods of al-Hamidiyeh, al-Howeiqa and al-Rashdiyeh and in the villages and towns of Howeijet Saqer, al-Tibni, al-Shmaitiyeh, Aiyash, al-Kharita and al-Bhailiyeh.

But any coordination between the Lebanese army and either the Syrian army or Hizballah would be politically sensitive in Lebanon and could jeopardise the sizeable USA military aid the country receives.

"We see no evidence of substantive cooperation (between the army and Hizballah)", the diplomat added.

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