Syrian army allows IS militants to evacuate Qalamoun region

Al-Udeid Air Base

Al-Udeid Air Base

A security source told Reuters on Sunday that Hizballah entered an area in western Qalamoun to confirm if the captive Lebanese soldiers were buried there.

The army's operation comes after Hezbollah carried out its own six-day campaign in July further south on the border area against what is now Al-Qaeda's former affiliate, after Al-Nusra broke off ties with the extremist group a year ago.

The Syrian army and Lebanon's Hezbollah militant group, which are waging a separate campaign on the other side of the border, also announced a cease-fire.

It said the unilateral pause was "in the framework of a comprehensive agreement to end the battle in west Qalamun against Daesh (ISIS)".

The two sides say they have driven the militants from most of the border region.

Hizbollah media outlets broadcast footage from the Syrian side of the border showing ISIL fighters surrendering to the Lebanese group.

The Lebanese Army eliminated 12 Daesh strongholds on the Lebanese-Syrian border during the second day of its anti-Daesh offensive, according to a statement of the army's command obtained by Sputnik on Sunday.

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Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea hit back at Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on Friday, stressing that there can not be official coordination "with a regime that is more brutal than the Islamic State group".

If Lebanon wanted to negotiate for IS to evacuate its territory, he said, the Syrian government would be ready to accept any formal request from Beirut.

Shia militant group Hezbollah is a close ally of Bashar al Assad's regime. They plan to hold negotiations with ISIS to discover the fate of 9 Lebanese soldiers kidnapped in 2014 by ISIS.

Last month, a Hizbollah offensive inside Lebanon against former Al Qaeda-affiliated militants resulted in negotiations that saw around 10,000 fighters and refugees return to Syria from the Arsal area. Damascus and the Lebanese militia movement Hezbollah are also now carrying out their anti-Daesh offensive on the Syrian side of the border.

ISIS had kidnapped a group of Lebanese soldiers and police in 2014 after it briefly held the Lebanese town of Arsal - along with other armed groups - near the country's northeastern border.

"We see no evidence of substantive cooperation (between the army and Hizballah)", the diplomat added.

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