Hezbollah slams U.S. over Daesh convoy

Damascus Looks for Safe Passage for ISIS Buses to Deir Ezzor

Lebanon's Hezbollah group said in a statement on Saturday that USA warplanes were stopping buses in an Islamic State evacuation convoy that had left Syrian government territory from advancing further into IS areas.

The Hezbollah-negotiated deal angered Iraq and the USA and a convoy carrying around 300 militants and as many family members has been stuck since early this week in a government-controlled area in the desert outside Deir el-Zour province.

"We've observed that. We didn't try to interfere with that", he said.

After being stuck for hours at an exchange point, the buses moved further north to a government-controlled area while negotiations continued in search of a new way to reach an ISIS-held area further east.

Earlier in the day, IS handed over to Hezbollah the body of a recently captured Iranian Revolutionary Guard member as part of the deal. The handover was reported by the Hezbollah-run Al-Manar TV.

Hezbollah said that six buses are still in areas controlled by the Syrian government and warned that if they are hit civilians will be killed.

The families had left Syria's border with Lebanon on Monday - and were intercepted near Humeima in eastern Syria.

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In a recorded speech, Nasrallah told his listeners how he drove to Damascus in order to meet with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and discuss the expulsion of ISIS from the region.

Earlier this week, an airstrike by the US-led coalition created a crater in a road that the buses had meant to take and destroyed a small bridge to prevent the convoy from moving further east. The U.S. has not targeted the evacuees themselves, but has struck other groups of IS militants in eastern Syria.

Rami Abdurrahman, head of the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said dozens of fighters abandoned the buses and drove into parts of Deir al-Zor.

The Hezbollah leader further said the USA had threatened to cut its assistance to the Lebanese army in case it did not put an end to its campaign against terrorists on the border with Syria.

Still, Col. Ryan Dillon, serving as a spokesman, said the US military intends to prevent the convoy from reaching Islamic State territory and will bomb any Islamic State vehicles that attempt to link up with it.

The last Islamic State stronghold in central Syria, 'Uqayribat, is expected to fall to the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and their allies in the next 48 hours, Al-Masdar News cited sources as saying.

Russia, which is providing air support to Assad's forces, says capturing Deir el-Zour is the current military priority.

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