The evacuation deal followed a military offensive by Hezbollah fighters and Syrian troops during which they captured border areas between the two countries
This Monday, July 31, 2017 photo released by the government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media, shows ambulances of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent gathering in the Syrian border village of Fleeta. The government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media released videos and photos of buses and ambulances near the Lebanese border town of Arsal and the Syrian village of Fleeta preparing for the evacuations. The second round of an exchange between Lebanon's militant Hezbollah group and Syria's al-Qaida affiliate that would lead to thousands of refugees resettled in Syria. (Syrian Central Military Media, via AP), photo: Syrian Central Military Media via AP
6 months ago
BEIRUT – Scores of buses and ambulances arrived at the Lebanon-Syria border Monday for the second phase of an exchange between Lebanon's militant Hezbollah group and Syria's al-Qaida affiliate that would lead to the resettlement of thousands of refugees in Syria. It was not immediately clear if the evacuation will go ahead Monday as scheduled, or will be delayed, because the registration of thousands of Syrians who want to return home is taking longer than expected. The evacuation deal followed a military offensive by Hezbollah fighters and Syrian troops during which they captured border areas between the two countries and left hundreds of al-Qaida fighters besieged in a small rugged mountainous area. The fighting ended with a cease-fire Thursday for negotiations to allow refugees, fighters, and family members to leave to Syria's northwest Idlib province and the central Qalamoun region. As part of the deal, the two groups on Sunday exchanged the bodies of their dead fighters. Hezbollah handed over the bodies of nine al-Qaida fighters in exchange for the bodies of five of its own. Under the second phase, about 9,000 Syrians, including hundreds of al-Qaida fighters, are to return to Syria. In exchange, eight Hezbollah fighters held by al-Qaida's Syria affiliate, Fatah al-Sham Front, will be returned home.