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Abadi’s Position Disrupts ‘Hezbollah-ISIS’ Deal | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Buses lined up near the Syria-Lebanon border to take 308 ISIS militants and their families to ISIS-controlled territory. Louai Beshara/AFP

Beirut- A deal reached between Lebanon’s “Hezbollah” and ISIS to transfer militants from east Lebanon and Qalamoun to west Syria at the Iraqi border was seemingly disrupted on Friday after the Iraqi government headed by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi rejected to grant them safe passage.

Saad al-Hadithi, a spokesman for the Iraqi government, completely denied on Friday that the cabinet was informed about the Hezbollah-ISIS deal.

“We confirm that Iraq never learned about the deal or was familiarized with it. We have not been asked about the opinion of the Iraqi government in this matter. The whole thing happened completely away from us,” he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, efforts continue in search for another safe passage for the ISIS buses, which had left the Qalamoun Jurud at the Syrian-Lebanese border on Monday night and were later stranded at the administrative border between Homs and Deir Ezzor in the Hmimeh area.

Sources on Thursday announced that the regime was waiting for the approval of Iraq to allow the buses to reach the Boukamel town.

However, the Iraqi position means that the Syrian regime must look for other options to transfer the militants to Deir Ezzor.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Friday: “The convoy carrying ISIS militants is still moving within the regime-held area in al-Sukhnah desert, looking for a new path towards the countryside of Deir Ezzor province, after the Iraqi side refused its passage through Iraqi territories, and after the international coalition shelled its original path.”

For its part, Iraq’s Joint Operations Command (JOC) denied on Friday Iraqi Vice President Nouri al-Maliki’s claims in which he defended the Hezbollah-ISIS deal by alleging that a similar agreement had been reached between several Iraqi forces and ISIS in Tal Afar.

“The Iraqi forces were responsible of expelling the terrorists from the Iraqi provinces,” a statement issued by the JOC said.

On Thursday, al-Maliki criticized the campaign against the deal reached in the Jurud of Lebanon, and said that Tal Afar was not liberated by fighting, but through an agreement.