Syrians, including jihadists, cross from Lebanon to Syria in ceasefire deal

9000 Syrians, including jihadists, cross from Lebanon to Syria in ceasefire deal

Buses carrying Syrian militants and refugees left a Lebanese border area bound for a rebel-held part of Syria on Wednesday, under a deal made after Shi'ite Hezbollah routed Sunni Nusra Front insurgents in their last foothold at the frontier.

In earlier remarks to Reuters, Ibrahim said 120 militants carrying personal weapons would be among the thousands of Syrians set to leave for Syria's rebel-held Idlib province on Wednesday.

The transfer was agreed under a ceasefire deal between Hezbollah and Nusra last week but delayed by two days while negotiations over the captive exchange took place, according to Reuters.

The government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media released video and photos of the buses and ambulances near the Lebanese border town of Arsal and the Syrian village of Fleeta preparing for the evacuations.

HTS took control of most of Idlib province in mid-July.

Over 40,000 refugees fleeing the Syrian conflict have also collected in Arsal in squalid camps.

The al-Qaida faction will release five more Hezbollah fighters held in Syria.

"The Nusra Front was defeated in Lebanon", Hezbollah's al-Manar television announced in the Lebanese capital, using an old name for al-Qaida's affiliate in Syria.




The UN refugee agency UNHCR said in a statement on Wednesday it was not involved in the deal or the return of fighters and their families.

Hezbollah chief, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, said last week that the liberation of the border region, known for its harsh geographical features, by Hezbollah forces and their allies in the Lebanese and Syrian armies was indeed a great achievement.

Three of the Hezbollah fighters were released overnight.

A ceasefire agreement between Jabhat Al-Nusra and Hezbollah will reportedly see the evacuation of 9,000 fighters and their relatives to a Jabhat Al-Nusra controlled region in Syria.

The Al-Nusra Front was the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda before it broke ties with the organisation and changed its name past year. It now spearheads the Tahrir al-Sham Islamist alliance in the Syrian war. Hezbollah was supported by the Syrian air force, while the Lebanese Army took up defensive positions around Arsal to protect Lebanese civilians and Syrian refugees from the fighting.

Hizbullah has argued that efforts to topple the Syrian government destabilise Lebanon and has fought on Damascus's side since 2012.

The convoy arrived at Saan in Hama province on Thursday, where they began to cross frontlines from government territory, a Hezbollah military media unit reported.

The Arsal region witnessed one of the most serious spillovers of the Syrian civil war into Lebanon when Nusra Front and Daesh militants briefly overran the town of Arsal in 2014, abducting dozens of Lebanese soldiers and policemen.

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