ISIS Fighters Thought They Had Safe Passage, But US Says Think Again

(U.S. Air Force photo/Jim Haseltine)

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Saagar Enjeti White House Correspondent
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The U.S. military is threatening to strike a convoy of hundreds of Islamic State fighters set free by Lebanon in a complex peace deal between ISIS, the Lebanese government, the terrorist group Hezbollah, and the Assad regime.

ISIS agreed to return the bodies of nine fallen Lebanese soldiers to the government in exchange for its fighters safe passage. The fighters remain armed and were given multiple air conditioned busses and ambulances by the Lebanese government for their journey.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah hailed the deal as a victory for Lebanon for finally expelling ISIS from its territory. “When ISIS found itself in the last corner facing a critical battle, it surrendered and collapsed and had no other option other but to accept our conditions,” he declared, adding that the deal meant “mission accomplished.”

The U.S. government however may not let the deal go through if it has anything to do with it.  “We will not rule out strikes against IS fighters being moved,” Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Army Col. Ryan Dillon flatly declared to the Associated Press. “We will take action where necessary; those would be absolutely lucrative targets,” he added to The New York Times.

“If we do identify and find ISIS fighters who have weapons — and like I said, we can discriminate between civilians and ISIS fighters — we will strike when we can. If we are able to do so, we will,” he continued to TheNYT. Dillon also told the AP the U.S. military had already struck a bridge to delay the convoy. “We are not party to any agreements that were made by the Lebanese Hezbollah and ISIS or the (Syrian) regime.”

The U.S. is not the only aggrieved party in the deal. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi called the peace deal an “insult to the Iraqi people,” adding “honestly speaking, we are unhappy and consider it incorrect.”

“Shame on a nation whose soldiers return in coffins, while the criminals leave in air-conditioned buses,” some Lebanese social media users declared after the deal.

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