Beirut – The first phase of the implementation of a deal between Hezbollah and Al-Nusra Front began on Sunday, as the two groups exchanged the bodies of fighters as part of a ceasefire in the Lebanese border town of Arsal.
Hezbollah’s military media outlet reported that the implementation of the first phase of the exchange deal was being carried out under the auspices of the Lebanese General Security, adding that the bodies of nine Nusra Front militants were exchanged for the remains of five Hezbollah fighters who died in the battles that took place earlier this month in the mountains of Arsal.
Meanwhile, around 8,000 people have registered to leave the Lebanese border region for a rebel-held area in Syria, Lebanese security sources told Reuters.
The ceasefire came into effect on Thursday and will involve the departure of all Nusra militants from the area around Arsal along with any of the civilians living in the area’s refugee camps who wish to leave with them.
Sources close to the matter told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that 7,800 fighters and civilians would leave for the town of Idlib in Syria, while others would head to the Syrian Qalamoun area.
The sources added that this step would reduce the number of Syrian refugees living in camps in the border area of Wadi Hamid. They noted that those wishing to leave have dismantled their tents, while others who chose to remain in Lebanon would be subject to the laws and conditions imposed by the Lebanese State with regards to the organization of refugee affairs.
Lebanon’s National News Agency (NNA) said that the Lebanese Red Cross has carried out the operations to exchange bodies between Hezbollah and Nusra Front at the request of the General Security Director General, General Abbas Ibrahim.
In earlier remarks, Ibrahim said that the deal provided for the transfer of militants and refugees to the town of Idlib, with the Red Cross assuming logistical matters.