Arasal Evacuation a Major Accomplishment for Hezbollah's Consolidation

Aug 04, 2017, 00:16
Arasal Evacuation a Major Accomplishment for Hezbollah's Consolidation

Around 9,000 Syrians including jihadists and their families will cross from Lebanon into Syria as part of a ceasefire deal between a former al Qaeda affiliate and Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia said in a statement on Monday. Also, the internal feud between Ahrar-al-Sham, Jabhat's rival group, installed a new group leader Hassan Soufan following the loss of territory in Idlib to Jabhat led Tahrir-al-Sham coalition.

"In the event of the hegemony of Nusra Front on Idlib, it would be hard for the United States to convince the global parties not to take the necessary military measures", the diplomat said, referring to al-Qaida's former affiliate in Syria (the group also known as Jabhat Fatah al-Sham).

Hezbollah's role in Syria's conflict has been criticised by its Lebanese political opponents, including Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, who is a Sunni.

The long line of buses drove through the partially paved mountain road between the two countries as Hezbollah fighters in beige uniforms and carrying Kalashnikov assault rifles watched them drive by.

The withdrawal followed Hezbollah's recent gains in fighting against Syrian militants in Aarsal, a major arms and gunmen smuggling hub.

Thousands of Syrian refugees and militants evacuated from northeastern Lebanon arrived on Thursday in central Syria in territory held by rebel and jihadist fighters, a monitoring said.

The operation stalled on Tuesday after Jabhat made fresh demands on prisoner releases and exchanges.

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 remaining five are expected to be released once the first convoy reaches its destination in Syria.

On Monday, actor George Clooney and his wife Amal, with support from Google and HP Inc., announced a $3.25 million donation to help UNICEF and the Lebanese ministry of education provide schools for Syrian refugee children in Lebanon.

Meanwhile, the United Nations refugee agency is concerned about the return of the rebels and their families to war-torn Syrian cities.

The Lebanese Red Cross has taken part in logistics.

"The UNHCR is not in a position to ascertain to what extent refugees, who are civilians by definition, are returning in this movement", it said.

After the town was taken back over by soldiers, Lebanese allies took journalists on a tour through the area showing them supply stockpiles and military equipment left behind by Islamic militants.

The next phase would allow militants and civilians to leave for the town of Al-Rahiba in eastern Qalamoun, while the third phase of evacuation will include civilians wishing to return to their villages in western Qalamoun.

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