US airstrikes block evacuation of Islamic State militants
BEIRUT » 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 over the decision to give the militants safe passage from the battlefield instead of killing them, and Iranbacked 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 had declared victory over the militants.
U.S. officials said the airstrikes to disrupt the fleeing militants were intended to send a strong signal that the deal, while helping to clear IS from the border, undermined a broader U.S.-led strategy for defeating the group in Syria and Iraq.