BEIRUT: The evacuation of hundreds of militants from Saraya Ahl al-Sham, a Free Syrian Army-affiliated group, and their families has been delayed after a disagreement over transportation logistics, a security source told Annahar.
Around 350 FSA-affiliated militants along with their families were supposed to leave Saturday to the Syrian city of Al-Ruhaibeh in eastern Qalamoun as part of a deal brokered by Lebanese authorities, namely the General Security agency, Hezbollah and the Syrian government.
A previous recent deal had led to the withdrawal of Al-Qaida fighters and thousands of Syrians from the outskirts of the Lebanese northeastern border town of Arsal into Idlib in Syria.
The latest wave of evacuations will pave the way for an army offensive against Islamic State militants in a nearby area, also straddling the Lebanese-Syrian border and spanning the outskirts the of Ras Baalbek and Arsal towns.
The army is expected to launch the offensive if negotiations over the withdrawal of IS militants to territories under their control in Syria fails, a security source told Annahar.
The success of the negotiations hinges on whether IS militants reveal the fate of nine Lebanese soldiers who were abducted in 2014 when IS and al-Qaida-linked militants briefly occupied Arsal. The militants were defeated shortly after and forced to withdraw to Arsal’s outskirts.
In July, the Al Qaida-affiliated Fatah al-Sham Front agreed to vacate the region, following a two-weeks-long military operation spearheaded by Hezbollah on the Lebanese side and the Syrian army on the other.
Lebanese authorities and Hezbollah have blamed a string of terror blasts in the country dating back to 2013 on extremist groups entrenched within the region straddling the northeastern Lebanese-Syrian border.
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