US airstrikes block advance evacuation of IS militants
BEIRUT (AP) — U.S. airstrikes blocked the advance of an Islamic State convoy carrying militants toward Iraq on Wednesday, derailing a Hezbollah-negotiated deal that removed the extremists from the Lebanon-Syria border, where they have been for years.
The airstrikes came amid U.S. criticism of the deal, reflecting a growing outrage within the Trump administration about the decision to give the militants safe passage from the battlefield instead of killing them, and Iran-backed Hezbollah’s leading role in it.
The developments also were an embarrassment for the U.S.-backed Lebanese military, which agreed to the deal and declared victory against the militants.
U.S. officials said the airstrikes to disrupt the fleeing militants were intended to send a strong signal that the deal undermined a broader U.S.-led strategy for defeating IS in Syria and Iraq.