Syrian army surrounds Islamic State enclave in central Syria

Syrian army surrounds Islamic State enclave in central Syria

The Syrian military advanced south from southern areas of Raqqa province, joining up with their forces north of the town of al-Sukhna in Homs province and in so doing closing the circle around the pocket of IS insurgents.

The Islamic State enclave in the barren mountains marks the last militant foothold along the Syria-Lebanon frontier.

A Hezbollah military media unit said the ceasefire took effect at 7 a.m. (0400 GMT) "under a full agreement to end the battle in west Qalamoun against Daesh".

ISIS had kidnapped a group of Lebanese soldiers and police in 2014 after it briefly held the Lebanese town of Arsal - along with other armed groups - near the country's northeastern border.

"The remaining ISIS terrorists are completely confused and seek an escape or any settlement to exit the area which they have occupied after being besieged", he said in a statement reported by the Syrian Arab News Agency.

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Syrian government forces and their Lebanese ally, Iranian-backed Hezbollah, are trying to oust Islamic State militants from the western Qalamoun region of Syria on Lebanon's border.

The Lebanese army said it is not coordinating its military operations with the Syrian army.

The head of Lebanon's General Security agency "Abbas Ibrahim has been authorised to negotiate with them for information on the kidnapped soldiers", the source said.

Several ministers arrived in an army command centre in Ras Baalbeck on Sunday to monitor the situation.

The groups withdrew under a truce deal, but took 30 hostages from Lebanon's security forces with them.

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In a speech Thursday, the Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said that Islamic State had been defeated.

A Western diplomat praised the Lebanese army's performance in the border battle in "a risky and complex operation" and said it would have been "simply unimaginable" a decade ago.

The deal was also a departure from previous Lebanese government policy toward Syrian refugees, which had held that returns to Syria would only be facilitated by Beirut if they were approved by the United Nations.

"We see no evidence of substantive cooperation (between the army and Hizballah)", the diplomat added.

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