Hezbollah, Syria Deal Relocating ISIS Fighters Condemned by US-led Coalition

Published August 30th, 2017 - 01:09 GMT
“ISIS is a global threat, relocating terrorists from one place to another for someone else to deal with, is not a lasting solution.” (AFP)
“ISIS is a global threat, relocating terrorists from one place to another for someone else to deal with, is not a lasting solution.” (AFP)

In response to an inquiry from The Jerusalem Post, the US-led coalition condemned the “agreement between Lebanese Hezbollah and ISIS” that has allowed hundreds of ISIS fighters and families to be bused through Syrian regime controlled regions to an area near Iraq.

“Russian and pro-regime counter-ISIS words ring hollow when they allow known terrorists to transit territory under their control,” wrote the press desk of the Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, in an email. “ISIS is a global threat, relocating terrorists from one place to another for someone else to deal with, is not a lasting solution.”

In response to an inquiry from The Jerusalem Post, the US-led coalition condemned the “agreement between Lebanese Hezbollah and ISIS” that has allowed hundreds of ISIS fighters and families to be bused through Syrian regime controlled regions to an area near Iraq.

“Russian and pro-regime counter-ISIS words ring hollow when they allow known terrorists to transit territory under their control,” wrote the press desk of the Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, in an email. “ISIS is a global threat, relocating terrorists from one place to another for someone else to deal with, is not a lasting solution.” 

The US-led coalition of around seventy countries has been fighting ISIS for three years and is on the verge of defeating the group in Iraq as well as in its capital of Raqqa in Syria.

On August 28th hundreds of ISIS fighters were allowed to board buses in the Qalamoun mountains on the border of Lebanon and Syria and drive to eastern Syria near Deir ez-Zor. The Iraqi government condemned the move as “unacceptable” and threatening to Iraq because the ISIS fighters will now be in the Euphrates valley and can easily move to ISIS controlled areas near al-Qaim in Iraq’s Anbar province.

 

 

“This is further evidence of why Coalition military action to defeat ISIS in Syria is necessary,” the coalition statement said. “The Coalition is monitoring the movement of these fighters in real-time. In accordance with the law of armed conflict, the Coalition will take action against ISIS whenever and wherever we are able to.”

In separate comments reported by the New York Times, Col. Ryan Dillon, spokesman for the coalition, said that “those would be absolutely lucrative targets,” a thinly veiled threat that the ISIS fighters could be targeted by airstrikes. The fighters were transported on buses with their families, which means any airstrike would have to take that into account. But once they move from the buses toward an ISIS base, the men, who are mostly fighters, could become targets.

Most important, the statement illustrates the continuing distrust between the coalition and its strategy of “de-confliction” with pro-regime forces. The US views Hezbollah as a terrorist organization and US President Donald Trump has condemned Hezbollah as a menace. The decision by the Syrian regime to seemingly dump ISIS fighters on the doorstep of Iraq so they become the “problem” of someone else will likely create distrust between Baghdad and Damascus as Iraqi and Syrian forces return to border areas that ISIS has held for three years.


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