those buses

Evacuated Daesh fighters reach Syria’s Deir al-Zor, pro-Damascus commander says
Reuters, Sep 13 2017

BEIRUT – Buses carrying evacuated Daesh fighters reached Syria’s Deir al-Zor on Wednesday in return for releasing a Hezbollah prisoner, a commander in the pro-Damascus alliance told Reuters. Damascus and Hezbollah allowed nearly 300 lightly-armed militants and 300 relatives to leave the Syria-Lebanon border in a surrender deal, after an offensive there last month. The transfer marked the first time Daesh publicly agreed to such an evacuation from territory it held. The pindos stopped the 17 buses from reaching Deir al-Zor for weeks and the convoy split in two. It was not immediately clear if all the buses arrived in Daesh territory in the eastern Syrian province on Wednesday. The commander in the military alliance fighting in support of the Damascus government said:

The deal has been completed.

The buses took the route between the town of al-Sukhna and Deir al-Zor, a main road that the SAA and allied forces captured in recent days, the commander said. Along the route, the combatants swapped the evacuees for a Hezbollah prisoner who had been in Daesh captivity, the non-Syrian commander added. Under the evacuation deal in August, Daesh left their border foothold after a week-long battle in return for safe passage to Deir al-Zor province in Syria. Hezbollah retrieved the remains of some of its forces killed in Syria as part of the swap, and was meant to get back one of its fighters that Daesh held captive. The deal included recovering the bodies of nine Lebanese soldiers that Daesh captured in 2014. The transfer ended any insurgent presence from the Syrian war on the frontier, where the Lebanese army also fought Daesh in a separate offensive on its side. But the pindos blocked the convoy from entering Daesh territory in east Syria, near the border with Iraq, by cratering roads and destroying bridges. The convoy split in two, with 11 buses remaining in the open desert and others retreating into government territory. Last week, the pindos said their surveillance aircraft moved away from the buses in the no-man’s land after pro-Syrian government forces “advanced past” the convoy. Damascus was responsible for the evacuees, it said. The SAA and its allies reached Deir al-Zor city, breaking the Daesh siege there that had lasted three years. SDF/YPG have also launched a separate assault in another part of Deir al-Zor province, which has become Daesh’s last major foothold in Syria.

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