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Published: Mon, August 28, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Lebanon army declares pause in offensive against ISIL

Lebanon army declares pause in offensive against ISIL

The Islamic State enclave in the barren mountains marks the last militant foothold along the Syria-Lebanon frontier.

The military announced a cease-fire Sunday and a halt in its offensive against Daesh along its northeastern border with Syria, paving the ground for negotiations to decide the fate of Lebanese soldiers held hostage by the terror group.

The army did not mention whether the ceasefire would include the Syrian side of the border where the "Hezbollah" group and Syrian regime forces were battling ISIS in the al-Qalamoun region.

The deal is expected to see hundreds of IS fighters leave both sides of the border for an area in eastern Syria, Syrian and Lebanese sources said.

Hizbollah has provided critical military support to Syrian President Bashar Assad during Syria's six-year-long war.

Eight Lebanese soldiers who have been in Islamic State captivity since 2014 are nearly certainly dead, the head of Lebanon's internal security agency said on Sunday.

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hasan Nasrallah on Thursday confirmed negotiations were being held with Daesh. They departed for insurgent territory in Syria after offensives by Hezbollah and the Syrian army. They did not confirm whether they have defeated the so called Islamic State.

Lebanon's army insisted it was not coordinating its assault with Hezbollah.

"So far, more than [about 104 square miles] have been fully captured on Syrian land" by Shiite Hezbollah and the Syrian army, revealed Nasrallah, adding, "Around [15 square miles] remain under Daesh [ISIS] control".

He said the remains would be subject to DNA testing to ensure their identities but that he was "almost certain that the case is closed".

The Syrian Air Force and Artillery inflicted heavy losses upon ISIL terrorist organization after bombarding its supply routes and positions in the neighborhoods of al-Hamidiyeh, al-Howeiqa and al-Rashdiyeh and in the villages and towns of Howeijet Saqer, al-Tibni, al-Shmaitiyeh, Aiyash, al-Kharita and al-Bhailiyeh.

A Western diplomat praised the Lebanese army's performance in the border battle in "a risky and complex operation" and said it would have been "simply unimaginable" a decade ago.

Senior officials of the Syrian troops repeatedly stated that they would not rest until they exterminate or capture the last terrorist within the Syrian-Lebanese territorial limits.

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