Hezbollah deal transfers al Qaeda fighters, refugees
BEIRUT | More than a hundred buses carrying thousands of al Qaeda-linked fighters and Syrian refugees drove down a dirt road from Lebanon into Syria on Wednesday, in what was the last phase of an exchange deal between Syria’s al Qaeda branch and Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group.
The departure of al Qaeda fighters from the Lebanon-Syria border comes three years to the day its fighters stormed the Lebanese border town of Arsal and captured two dozen soldiers, killing some in captivity and releasing others. The group’s presence in Lebanon has left scores of people dead.
More than 7,000 Syrian refugees and gunmen, including a top al Qaeda operative in Syria known as Abu Malek al-Talli, were aboard the 113 buses the left Lebanon’s Arsal region toward the Syrian border village of Fleeta, according to the government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media.