Lebanon's army declares ceasefire in fight against IS

Lebanon's army declares ceasefire in fight against IS

Shortly after, the Lebanese group Hezbollah and the Syrian army, which are engaged in another offensive against ISIL on the other side of the frontier in Syria along the border with Lebanon, announced a ceasefire that took effect at the same time. Hezbollah has been fighting in Syria alongside President Bashar Assad's forces since 2013. The surrender of the remains of the fighters by the extremists took place at the border crossing of Mira.

The bodies of five Hezbollah fighters were also brought back to Lebanon as part of the deal.

Russian officials have said the priority is now to aid government troops in recapturing Deir el-Zour, which is southeast of Raqqa and where U.S-backed Syrian opposition forces are battling Islamic state group militants.

The Central Military Media - an outlet run jointly by Hizballah and the Syrian regime military - said the Sunday ceasefire will pave the way for a comprehensive agreement to end the fight against IS in the area.

The two sides say they have driven the militants from most of the border region. The Lebanese army has said it is not coordinating the assault with Hizbollah or the Syrian army.

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The head of Lebanon's General Security body, Major General Abbas Ibrahim, oversaw the release efforts in 2015.

"The remaining ISIS terrorists are completely confused and seek an escape or any settlement to exit the area which they have occupied after being besieged", he said in a statement reported by the Syrian Arab News Agency.

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".

"When this happens, Daesh's military presence in Lebanon - its control of geographic territory - will be finished", the source said.

Nine troops are believed to still be held by ISIS after militants overran the Lebanese border town of Arsal in August 2014 and kidnapped 30 soldiers and police.

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Northeastern Lebanon was the scene of one of the worst spillovers of Syria's war into Lebanon in 2014, when Daesh and Nusra Front militants attacked the town of Arsal.

Nusra Front militants and a Syrian rebel group withdrew from Lebanon's border region earlier this month.

Lebanon would not want to appear to be operating alongside the Syrian government, and the presence of Hezbollah militias from Lebanon fighting in Syria is also politically sensitive.

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

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