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Thousands of Syrian militants poised to leave Lebanon-Syria border zone under deal
BY 2017-08-02 08:59:03

FLEITA, Syria, Aug. 1 (Xinhua) -- Tens of buses are ready to transfer thousands of militants and civilian refugees from Lebanon into an insurgent-held city in northern Syria.

Convoys of buses entered the Lebanese side of the mountainous barrens of Qalamoun region in western Syria on Tuesday, as part of a deal between the Lebanese Hezbollah group and the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front.

The deal, which started with a ceasefire, is designed for the evacuation of all Nusra Front militants from Juroud Arsal region on the Lebanese side of the borders with Syria toward Syria's northern city of Idlib and other rebel strongholds in Syria.

The deal came after Hezbollah and the Syrian army jointly launched a war on the Nusra positions in Syria's Qalamoun region, mainly in the Fleita barrens and the adjacent Arsal barrens in Lebanon.

The battle lasted for three days, during which the Syrian army and Hezbollah defeated and cleared Fleita of the Nusra militants, while in Lebanon, the terror-designated group agreed to a deal to leave its positions.

Around 9,000 Nusra militants in addition to 2,500 Syrian refugees who want to go with the Nusra militants were set to leave as a second stage of the deal.

The first stage was concluded earlier this week, with both Nusra and Hezbollah exchanging the bodies of their dead fighters.

Still, the evacuation, which was scheduled for Monday, was delayed due to complications in the negotiations, some reports suggested.

On Tuesday, the buses from the Syrian side of the borders were on standby for the evacuation of the militants and refugees from Arsal through Fleita all the way to Idlib.

Xinhua reporters at the site were escorted to Fleita at the early time Tuesday, and the entry of the buses haven't been done yet.

Sources from inside Lebanon said that negotiations on high levels are taking place amid a security tight-lip on the details behind the delay.

Pan-Arab al-Mayadeen said that the militants are urging for the release of some of the inmates from inside Lebanese prisons to be part of the evacuation.

It's most likely that the evacuation will be postponed.

Around 1.5 million Syrian refugees poured into Lebanon throughout Syria's six-year war, with several thousands of them living in makeshift camps near Arsal.

Also, thousands of Nusra militants have also stationed in the Arsal barrens when they were in control of the Syrian side of the borders throughout the crisis, prompting Hezbollah to unleash the recent battle to completely end the presence of Nusra militants in Lebanon.

(Editor:Li Zhaoqi) (From:xinhua)
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