U.S. coalition, Iraq slam evacuation agreement for IS fighters

Aug. 30 (UPI) — Iraq’s government and the U.S.-led military coalition on Wednesday denounced an agreement that allows Islamic State fighters safe passage across Syria.

Negotiations between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad‘s regime and the Islamic State terror group, also known as ISIS, resulted in an agreement to transfer militants from the Lebanon border to Deir az-Zour, Syria, which borders Iraq.

The deal is part of a cease-fire agreement along the Lebanon-Syria border between Lebanon’s army and Hezbollah, and Syria’s army.

“The coalition is not a party to the agreement between Lebanese Hezbollah and ISIS. Russian and pro-regime counter-ISIS words ring hollow when they allow known terrorists to transit territory under their control,” Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon told CNN Wednesday.

The U.S.-led alliance said it ordered airstrikes along certain roads to prevent the IS convoy from arriving in the militant group’s transfer.

“Earlier today, we did conduct strikes to crater the road, and we destroyed a small bridge to prevent that convoy from moving further east,” coalition spokesman Col. Ryan Dillon said.

Dillon also said the alliance bombed Islamic State vehicles and individuals moving in a convoy from the east.

Iraqi officials, including Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, and Syrian rebels have also criticized the agreement.

“Iraq should not pay the price for agreements that affect its security and sovereignty,” Iraqi Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jubouri said Wednesday, adding that the deal was “a return to square one.”

“The negotiations have laid bare the close links between [Islamic State], the Iranian-backed Hezbollah and the Assad regime as well as the complicity of the three parties in the spread of terrorism in Syria and Lebanon,” Syria’s main opposition group said in a statement.

Security official Mohamed al-Karbouli said the deal was “a grave mistake.”

The Lebanese Army, with help from Hezbollah and the Syrian Army, helped move 675 Islamic State fighters and their relatives in buses and ambulances. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said this week there were 26 wounded fighters, 308 armed fighters and 331 civilians.

Some Islamic State fighters entered the Anbar province’s borders with Syria, according to information received from residents of the town of Rawa.

“The area between Syria’s Boukamal and Sakra, south of Hit, Anbar, is open and out of control,” he said, quoted by Alsumaria News.


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