Syrian fighters, refugees leave Jroud Arsal camps

9000 Syrians, including jihadists, cross from Lebanon to Syria in ceasefire deal

WaPo: No “Evidence of the Lebanese State” in Border Area Held by Hezbollah

Hezbollah handed over the bodies of nine al-Qaida fighters in exchange for the bodies of five of its own.

Beirut- Thousands of Syrian civilians and Nusra Front militants and their families gathered on Wednesday in buses meant to transport them to the north of Syria, in implementation of the second phase of a deal between Nusra and the Lebanese Hezbollah, which aims to evacuate the area of Jroud Arsal of 1,160 armed men and 6,661 refugees.

Thousands of Syrians including militants and their families and refugees are to leave the border zone of Jroud Arsal and head for Syria's northwestern Idlib province under the deal.

In territory that Hezbollah's forces captured in northeastern Lebanon last week, "nowhere was there any evidence of the Lebanese state", correspondents for The Washington Post reported on Saturday.

This victory follows a series of wins for Lebanon as it continues to get rid of Islamic extremists along their border with Syria. The explosion in Nazlet Shehadeh struck some people who were trying to flee violence in the city, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the activist-run group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently.

Around 150 buses were stationed at the Lebanese-Syrian border Monday to transport thousands of Syrians to the Syrian regions of Idlib and Qalamoun.

The Jabhat and other anti-Damascus elements were initially welcomed in Arsal, a conservative Sunni area which has gradually turned against both the jihadis and the 45,000 Syrian refugees living in camps near the town.

The National News Agency (NNA) reported that a convoy of 113 busses carrying Nusra Front militants and their families had crossed Wadi Hamid towards the Syrian territories on Wednesday.

Eight of its fighters were being held by Nusra in Arsal, of whom three were freed on Wednesday and more on Thursday.

The Lebanese army has been primarily engaged in a fight against ISIS positions in the area of Ras Baalbek near the Syrian border.

He added that the only other armed group still in the mountainous border area, Saraya Ahl al-Sham, which holds a tiny area on the frontier, would withdraw in the coming days.

Al-Nusra Front is the name of the Syrian faction that was previously an Al-Qaeda affiliate.

Iran-backed Hezbollah, which has lost hundreds of fighters in Syria, says its fight is an existential one to stop extremists spreading to Lebanon.

According to Al Jazeera reporter Imtiaz Tyab, this was the first occasion when a peace deal between the two warring groups has paved the way for the evacuation of "such a large number of Syrian refugees and fighters who are opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and have been in open conflict with Hezbollah and Lebanese forces".

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