RADIO DANAN: Buses carrying some 7,800 militants and their families have reportedly left Lebanon’s highlands of Arsal for Syria under a ceasefire deal reached between the Hezbollah resistance movement and terrorists operating in the region.
Lebanon’s National News Agency (NNA) reported that the buses headed to the Syrian town of Flita on Wednesday under the supervision of the Lebanese General Security and the army as well as the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The transfer was made possible under the truce agreement struck last week between Hezbollah and the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham Takfiri terrorist group, formerly known as al-Nusra Front, which included the release of resistance prisoners and the transfer of Syria militants back home.
Nusra ringleader Abu Malek al-Talli was among those sent to Syria on Wednesday, the report added.
The buses had arrived in Arsal on Monday and Tuesday, but the transfer was delayed as Beirut dismissed the militants’ demands.
Major General Abbas Ibrahim, head of Lebanon’s General Security, said the demands included the release of prisoners held in a Lebanese jail and safe passage out of the country for some people wanted by Beirut.
“(The Nusra Front’s) demands regarding the exchange agreement have been rejected by us and we consider them an obstacle. It was this which delayed the implementation of the second phase of the agreement,” he added.
The first stage of the truce deal took effect on Sunday as Hezbollah and the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham swapped the bodies of their members killed in clashes.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham set free three Hezbollah fighters in exchange for three of its militants.
The ceasefire came days after Hezbollah took most of Arsal in a joint offensive with the Lebanese and Syrian armies to dislodge terrorists from the border area.
Arsal was hardly hit by the spillover of the Syria crisis in 2014, when militants managed to overrun the town for a brief period.
Thousands of Syrian refugees live in informal camps in Arsal after having fled the foreign-sponsored militancy in their home country.
Hezbollah has played a critical role in campaigns against militants along Lebanon’s border and fought for years alongside Syrian army troops against terrorists wreaking havoc in the Arab country.