Lebanon's Hezbollah formally announces end to Arsal operation


The exchange between Syria's al-Qaida branch and Lebanon's militant Hezbollah group has resumed in what will lead to the return of thousands of Syrian refugees to their country.

He said Lebanon's military and security officials played a major role in the operation and facilitated victories against the Nusra Front terrorists.

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

Two former residents of Arsal said most refugees originally fled to Arsal when the Syrian army backed by Hezbollah took control of their towns across the border during heavy fighting over three years ago.

Reuters also said that the completed exchange means that a delayed transfer of around 10,000 Syrian militants, their families and other refugees by bus from Lebanon into rebel...-held Syria is expected to begin on Wednesday morning, Ibrahim said.

About 7,000 Syrians, including fighters from Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, a rebel group formerly known as Nusra front, left the Arsal district on the border between Lebanon and Syria as part of a ceasefire deal that will also involve the handover of captured fighters from the Lebanese Hezbollah movement.

The announcement comes days after Hezbollah and the Syrian army launched an offensive to drive out militants from their last stronghold in the border area between the two countries.

Under the deal, Syrian government will shuttle the militants and their families to Idlib Province and some other areas.

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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".

"The Nusra Front was defeated in Lebanon", said the announcer of Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV, using the old name of al-Qaida's affiliate in Syria.

The Lebanese Red Cross has taken part in logistics.

In recent weeks, Hezbollah says it has regained control of around 95% of the area, culminating in the ceasefire deal, which was agreed last week.

Three of the Hezbollah fighters were released overnight. It now leads the Sham Liberation Organisation in the Syrian war. The Lebanese army did not take part in joint offensive, deploying its forces around the town of Arsal strictly for defensive purposes.

Daesh is still holding nine Lebanese soldiers captured at that time.

A Syrian soldier takes position in the Syrian barren region of Fleita in western Syria near Lebanon as preparations were underway to transfer al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front militants on August 2, 2017.