Ceasefire halts Syria-Lebanon border fight against Islamic State

Lebanon's army earlier announced a ceasefire in its operation against Daesh terrorists near the country's border with Syria to help start negotiations over the fate of the captive soldiers.

According to the Lebanese television network Al-Manar, the Lebanese army had declared a cease-fire in order to negotiate the fate of 9 Lebanese soldiers who were captured by ISIS in 2014.

Syrian government forces and their Lebanese ally, Iranian-backed Hizbullah, had launched an offensive to drive ISIS jihadists from the western Qalamoun region of Syria on Lebanon's border, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Four were killed by their captors and a fifth died of his wounds while 16 were released in a prisoner swap in December 2015 that was also overseen by Ibrahim.

The army has said the remaining missing troops were its "top concern" in its offensive against an estimated 600 ISIS fighters in the hilly border region.

During that visit, Mr Nasrallah said in his speech last week, Damascus stressed that if the Lebanese government wanted to coordinate with it on reaching a deal with ISIL then it "must submit a formal and open request to the Syrian authorities" - something that would force Beirut to recognise Mr Al Assad's legitimacy.

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Talks have begun with mediation by the head of Lebanon's internal security agency, a security source said.

Six Lebanese army troops have been killed since August 19.

Abou Eid denied that the Lebanese army and Hezbollah had coordinated the suspension of their operations, even though they were announced on the same day and took effect at the same time.

The Central Military Media - an outlet run jointly by Hizballah and the Syrian regime military - said the Sunday ceasefire will pave the way for a comprehensive agreement to end the fight against IS in the area.

Northeast Lebanon saw one of the worst spillovers of Syria's war into Lebanon in 2014, when Islamic State and other militants briefly overran the border town of Arsal. "We are expecting the number to go up to eight", Ibrahim said, adding, "We believe that these remains belong to the soldiers".

Both the pro-Assad alliance and the Lebanese army have advanced towards the Syrian-Lebanese border from their respective sides.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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