Syrian Militants, Refugees Arrive In Syria Rebel Zone From Lebanon

Syrian Militants, Refugees Arrive In Syria Rebel Zone From Lebanon

Syrian Militants, Refugees Arrive In Syria Rebel Zone From Lebanon

While the rebel groups want Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to be removed from power, Hezbollah has often clashed with the rebel groups to back Assad, in addition to sending thousands of its combatants to fight alongside Assad's troops.

We review the key developments in Syria, including militant evacuations from the Lebanese border, USA warnings over al-Qaida's ascendancy in Idlib and reports that journalists in Raqqa have been wounded by a vehicle bombing.

Hezbollah-run media in Beirut said the Syrians headed for an area of Syria's Idlib province controlled by rebels fighting against the Damascus government.

Two former residents of Arsal said most refugees originally fled to Arsal when the Syrian army backed by Hezbollah took control of their towns across the border during heavy fighting over three years ago.

Buses carrying Syrians began leaving refugee camps in the Lebanese border area of Jroud Arsal on Wednesday under a truce deal between Hezbollah and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham fighters.

Beirut- Thousands of Syrian civilians and Nusra Front militants and their families gathered on Wednesday in buses meant to transport them to the north of Syria, in implementation of the second phase of a deal between Nusra and the Lebanese Hezbollah, which aims to evacuate the area of Jroud Arsal of 1,160 armed men and 6,661 refugees.

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Last week, Hezbollah took most of the mountainous zone of Jroud Arsal in a joint offensive with the Syrian army to drive Nusra militants from their last frontier foothold.

While the Lebanese Red Cross has taken part in logistics of the transfer, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) has not been involved.

A ceasefire agreement between Jabhat Al-Nusra and Hezbollah will reportedly see the evacuation of 9,000 fighters and their relatives to a Jabhat Al-Nusra controlled region in Syria. "UNHCR is not in a position to ascertain to what extent refugees, who are civilians by definition, are returning in this movement", UNHCR said.

The source in Hezbollah told Xinhua the evacuation is expected to last until Thursday morning, adding that the entire operation will end on Thursday.

In exchange, eight Hezbollah fighters held by al-Qaida's Syria affiliate, Fatah al-Sham Front, will be returned home. That group is known as the Hay'at Tahrir al Sham militant alliance - Arabic for the Levant Liberation Committee - or HTS.

A Sunni enclave surrounded by Shia villages, Arsal was the scene of an attack in 2014, when more than two dozen Lebanese security force members were seized by militants from the Nusra Front and IS who had crossed the border from Syria.

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.

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