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Syrian Army declares ceasefire near Lebanon border
August 28, 2017, 9:21 am

The Syrian army is pushing ahead as it begins liberating major parts of rebel-held territory near the Lebanese border [Xinhua]

Syria’s national army declared a ceasefire in the Qalamoun district near the border with Lebanon on Sunday following a number of rapid advances into Islamic State-held territory.

The Syrian army and its Hezbollah affiliate militias have for weeks been engaged in an offensive in this mountainous area of the border.

In the meantime, the Lebanese army has also been defeating IS forces on its side of the border near the town of Ras Baalbak.

This came following the Lebanese Army’s entry into Arsal, a small town on the Lebanese side of the border just south of Ras Baalbak, which had previously been occupied by Islamist rebels – Tahrir a Sham, believed affiliated with IS.

Hezbollah had on July 27 routed Tahrir a Sham in Arsal leading to a ceasefire agreement to have the rebel fighters vacated to the Syrian province of Idlib, now considered the last bastion of anti-government forces.

Hezbollah also carried out an exchange of prisoners with Tahrir a Sham.

Lebanese military sources say they will use Sunday’s break in fighting to find out what happened to their officers who were overrun in Arsal and by IS in 2014 and 2015. In the meantime, they have forced hundreds of Syrian refugees in Arsal back across the border to Syrian territory.

Prisoner exchanges, surrender and relocation of Islamist extremist rebels in exchange for civilians, and the establishment of safe zones have markedly increased in the past 10 months since the Syrian Army routed IS and affiliate forces in the strategic town of Aleppo.

In May, Iran, Russia and Turkey signed the Memorandum of De-Escalation in Astana, Kazakhstan for establishing four safe zones including the Idlib province and some neighboring territories (Latakia, Hama and Aleppo) to the north of Homs, East Ghouta and some provinces in southern Syria (Daraa and Quneitra).

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

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