A convoy containing ISIS fighters and their families – including women and children – is “stuck” in Syria, after U.S.-led airstrikes have contained it there, as the Coalition will not allow the terrorists to advance any further.
And, the Coalition has also told Russia and Syria to remove the women and children from the convoy, as they are seemingly being used as “shields” to protect the ISIS fighters from being taken out. It appears that the ISIS fighters are being moved into more strategic positions across the Middle East after this convoy was agreed to by Syria and Lebanon earlier this week.
The Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) Operation Inherent Resolve announced Friday afternoon that the convoy of 17 buses remains in the Syrian Desert between Humayma and As Sukhnah, after it turned around and started back west from the Abul Kamal area following U.S.-led airstrikes to block its route.
“The Coalition has not struck the convoy,” the Public Affairs Office for the CJTF-OIR said in an unclassified press release sent Friday afternoon. “In accordance with the law of armed conflict, the Coalition has struck ISIS fighters and vehicles, including a tank, armed technical vehicles, and transport vehicles seeking to facilitate the movement of ISIS fighters to the border area of our Iraqi partners. Food and water have been provided to the convoy.”
The Coalition also said:
“The Coalition has communicated to the Russians, to deliver a message to the Syrian regime, that the Coalition will not condone ISIS fighters moving further east to the Iraqi border. The Coalition values human life and has offered suggestions on a course of action to save the women and children from any further suffering as a result of the Syrian regime’s agreement.
The Coalition and our Iraqi partners were not a party to the agreement between the Lebanese Hezbollah, the Syrian regime and ISIS to allow these experienced fighters to transit territory under the Syrian regime control to the Iraqi border. ISIS is a global threat; relocating terrorists from one place to another for someone else to deal with, is not a lasting solution.
In accordance with the law of armed conflict, the Coalition will continue take action against ISIS whenever and wherever we are able to without harming civilians.”
There are reportedly more than 600 ISIS fighters and their family members in the convoy who are trying to relocate as part of a negotiated deal; they were being transported from west to east, from the Lebanon-Syria border to an ISIS-held town in eastern Syria near the border it shares with Iraq.
The Coalition this week launched airstrikes to block the convoy from going any further.
“Lebanese officials confirmed that the Lebanese Army, in coordination with Hezbollah and the Syrian Army, arranged on Monday for 670 Islamic State fighters and their relatives to be taken nearly 300 miles in buses and ambulances from near the Lebanese-Syrian border to Abu Kamal, close to the border with Iraq,” according to a New York Times report.
“[…We] did conduct strikes to crater the road, and we destroyed a small bridge to prevent that convoy from moving further east,” Colonel Ryan Dillon, Spokesman for the U.S.-Coalition in Iraq and Syria, told the Times.
“The convoy of buses and ambulances has not been struck, but there have been individual vehicles and individuals clearly identified as ISIS, and we did strike those,” Dillon said. “If we can strike ISIS where we’re able to do so without harming civilians, we will do that.”