The government of Iraq as well as the internationally recognized Syrian government in exile sounded the alarm about negotiations between the coalition of Hezbollah and the regime of Bashar al-Assad and the Islamic State that allowed safe passage to more than 300 ISIS terrorists.
The agreement between the parties, following a Sunday ceasefire between Lebanese government forces and the Hezbollah-Assad forces, allowed ISIS fighters to get on tour buses that shipped them and their families from the Syria-Lebanon border to Deir ez-Zor province southeast of Raqqa. The final destination, the Associated Press reported, where they were traveling today and where housing was being prepared, was Al-Bukamal — a mere 13-minute drive from the Iraq border crossing.
In return, ISIS pointed to the burial location of several Lebanese soldiers kidnapped by the terror group in 2014. Bodies have been located and DNA tests are being conducted on the remains.
ISIS documents found in Qalamoun indicated that some of the fighters there were from Chechnya. Syrian state media released images of a fleet of air-conditioned tour buses waiting to load up with jihadists.
“Honestly speaking, we are unhappy and consider it incorrect,” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told reporters. “Transferring terrorists from Qalamoun to the Iraqi-Syrian border is worrying and an insult to the [Iraqi] people.”
“There must be no chance for Daesh to breath,” the Iraqi leader added.
#Syria: the Assad regime and ally #Hezbollah have facilitated the save passage of 100s of #Daesh militants from Qalamoon to the #Iraq border pic.twitter.com/2gOFgv3eQO
— Thomas van Linge (@ThomasVLinge) August 29, 2017
Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah claimed in a Monday televised address that ISIS “had asked for a ceasefire in order to negotiate, something that was out of question for us, but as Daesh found itself cornered it surrendered and collapsed — they had no choice but to accept our terms.”
“We have made a deal to which we must commit; we do not stab in the back and we do not betray,” he said of the pact.
The Lebanese military wasn’t so quick to declare ISIS flushed out of their territory, noting the need to clear affected areas and ensure ISIS didn’t leave mines behind.
According to pro-Assad Al-Masdar News, Nasrallah said ISIS was “made by the western intelligence services to serve Israel, and they fought for the sake of the Israeli scheme and the U.S. hegemony.”
Hezbollah began sending fighters to aid Assad in 2012, after the Arab Spring revolution began.
The National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, which is recognized by the United States, European Union and others as the legitimate body representing the Syrian people, said in a statement Monday that they were surprised “at the silence of the international community over these negotiations.”
“The negotiations have laid bare the close links between ISIS, 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. The Coalition announces that the deals resulting from these negotiations fall within the framework of supporting terrorism and violate the resolution of the UN Security Council and the General Assembly which prohibited any contact or cooperation with terrorist organizations,” the statement added.
“…Condemnation of this deal should not be limited to the parties involved, but extends to the Lebanese security agencies that played a role in reaching and sponsoring the agreement as well as to international organizations that have remained silent about the deal.”
The Syrian Coalition called on the UN Security Council “to shoulder its responsibilities towards this serious violation” and all violations from Assad and his allies, including Hezbollah, Iran and Russia.
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