Cease-fire with ISIS confirmed along Syrian-Lebanese border

Cease-fire with ISIS confirmed along Syrian-Lebanese border

The Lebanese army on Sunday began mediated talks with Daesh after a ceasefire it had declared at the country's northeast border with Syria took effect, a security source said.

Al-Nusra admitted defeat after six days of fierce fighting and handed over five Hezbollah fighters in return for evacuation of its members to a region in neighboring Syria. The Syrian government has held on to a pocket of territory in the provincial capital of Deir Ezzor city, and at a nearby airbase.

The Syrian army and Lebanon's Hezbollah militant group, which are waging a separate campaign on the other side of the border, also announced a cease-fire.

Hezbollah also said "a cease-fire starting at 7 a.m. comes within the framework of a comprehensive agreement to end the battle in Western Qalamoun".

The army has said the remaining missing troops were its "top concern" in its offensive against an estimated 600 ISIS fighters in the hilly border region. The Lebanese army has said it is not coordinating the assault with Hizbullah or the Syrian army.

But any coordination between the Lebanese army and either the Syrian army or Hizballah would be politically sensitive in Lebanon and could jeopardise the sizeable United States military aid the country receives.

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In exchange for locating the bodies of the soldiers kidnapped in 2014, the militants will be evacuated to eastern Syria. "We are expecting the number to go up to eight", Ibrahim said, adding, "We believe that these remains belong to the soldiers".

The United States has designated Hezbollah a terrorist organization and is an ally of Lebanon. The Lebanese militant group launched an offensive against the extremists alongside Syrian government forces on August 19, the same day the Lebanese military launched its own operation against ISIL.

In a speech Thursday, the Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said that Islamic State had been defeated.

A military source said Islamic State militants had "succumbed under fire and asked for negotiations".

Hizbollah has provided critical military support to Syrian President Bashar Assad during Syria's six-year-long war.

Hizballah and its allies have been pressing the Lebanese state to normalise relations with Damascus, testing Lebanon's official policy of neutrality towards the conflict next door.

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