Preparations for Arsal Evacuations Underway
Evacuation buses and ambulances arrived at the Lebanese border Monday to resettle thousands of fighters and their families to rebel-held territory in Syria, the Associated Press reported.
The buses and ambulances gathered near the Lebanese border town of Arsal and the Syrian village of Fleeta to prepare for the evacuations, according to the Associated Press.
The transfer, however, was delayed until Tuesday, to allow for the arrival of all buses being used for the evacuation deal, Al Jazeera reported.
The evacuation is part of a local cease-fire agreement brokered last week between Hezbollah and the former Syrian affiliate of al-Qaida, Jabhat Fatah al-Sham.
The deal grants refugees and remaining fighters from Jabhat Fatah al-Sham safe passage from the Syrian border to Idlib province and the central Qalamoun region, leaving control of this corner of the frontier to Hezbollah, the Lebanese army and the Syrian government.
About 9,000 Syrians, including hundreds of Jabhat Fatah al-Sham fighters, are to return to Syria. In exchange, eight Hezbollah fighters held by the al-Qaida-linked militant group will be returned home.
Also to be evacuated are members of the Free Syrian Army affiliate, Saraya Ahl al-Sham, who did not participate in last week’s battles with Hezbollah. Those fighters will be bused to the government-held town of Ruhaiba, about 31 miles (50km) northeast of the Syrian capital Damascus where they will be granted amnesty by the Syrian state.
Scores Killed in Clashes Between Syrian Government and ISIS
Clashes between the Syrian government and the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) near the militant stronghold of Deir Ezzor have killed 45 fighters on both sides since Sunday, a war monitor reported.
The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Monday that at least 17 loyalists of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and 28 ISIS militants have been killed by fighting in the southeastern countryside of Raqqa, near Deir Ezzor’s provincial border.
Last week, the Syrian army and allied militias advanced against ISIS in Raqqa’s southeastern countryside and pushed toward the provincial border with Deir Ezzor – one of the last major ISIS strongholds in Syria.
ISIS Targets Civilians Fleeing Raqqa
At least four children and two Kurdish fighters were killed in an explosion in the northern city of Raqqa on Monday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.
The monitoring group said that a car bomb in the Nazlet Shehadeh area, south of Raqqa, struck people who were trying to flee ISIS-held territory in the province.
ISIS often targets civilians fleeing its former militant bastion with landmines and explosives.
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