Hezbollah leader defends evacuation of IS fighters

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A coalition spokesman, Colonel Ryan Dillon, threatened Wednesday that a convoy of buses and ambulances carrying hundreds of ISIS fighters and their families was a legitimate target for US forces.

The leader of Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, on Wednesday defended the Lebanese group's involvement in an evacuation deal for Islamic State fighters from the Syria-Lebanon border to an area of eastern Syria held by Islamic State.

He did not know if the evacuation convoy, which contains buses of fighters and their family members, as well as ambulances carrying wounded fighters, was now in Islamic State or Syrian government territory.

The coalition said it had not hit the convoy, but "cratered" a road in east Syria and bombed IS vehicles nearby.

Lebanon's Hezbollah has been a close ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad throughout Syria's six-year war.

Lebanese troops launched an attack against ISIS on August 18, while Syrian troops and Hezbollah fighters launched a simultaneous offensive from the Syrian side of the border.

"Irreconcilable (IS) terrorists should be killed on the battlefield, not bused across Syria to the Iraqi border without Iraq's consent", according to a tweet from Brett McGurk, the top US envoy for the anti-Islamic State coalition.

The bedraggled fighters boarded old, air-conditioned buses with the words "Happy Journey" on the side, and set off through the mountains they had occupied for the past three years.

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In 2014, ISIS and al-Qaeda militants overran the Lebanese border town of Arsal, kidnapping 30 Lebanese soldiers and sending shockwaves through the country.

The US views Hezbollah as a terrorist organization and US President Donald Trump has condemned Hezbollah as a menace. Lebanese officials say they are nearly sure the remains are of the soldiers. "We wish they were celebrating with us".

"The coalition has not struck the convoy", officials said.

The end game is "to make it tougher for the Coalition to capture Deir al-Zor province from ISIL, by relocating their fighters there" the defence expert said.

Children escaping from the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, which has been held by Islamic State (IS) militants since 2014, have been "tormented" by years of living under the extremists' rule, a US -based charity says.

Fighting in the Raqqa area of Syria, where the American-led coalition and allied Syrian groups are actively battling the Islamic State, has increased in intensity recently.

"I had two choices: either I continue the battle and not know the soldiers' fate, or I submit to the situation and find out".

"During our incursions, we try to open safe passages for them so they would not be a target of our attacks, but there are also many mines that led to the deaths of civilians", she said.