WASHINGTON — A U.S. warplane bombed a bridge and cratered a road in Syria to block the movement of Islamic State fighters who were being evacuated in a controversial deal that was hatched with Lebanon, Hezbollah and ISIS, according to Army Col. Ryan Dillon, a spokesperson for Operation Inherent Resolve.
The convoy is “no longer moving east,” Dillon said, and the coalition’s goal was achieved.
Agence-France Presse was first to break the news of the strike on social media.
The convoy included roughly 20 vehicles and upward of 200 ISIS fighters, Dillon said, citing open-source reporting.
If the convoy resumes moving eastward, Dillon said, the U.S.-led coalition will target the convoy again in accordance with the Law of Armed Conflict.
But, there are civilians and family members among the ISIS fighters, and if the coalition can properly discriminate between the two they will target the ISIS terrorists.
Lebanon launched a military operation a little over a week ago targeting ISIS militants on the Syria-Lebanon border. A ceasefire was declared shortly thereafter and a deal was hatched between ISIS fighters and Lebanon to move the militants toward the ISIS stronghold of Deir Ez Zour in the Euphrates River Valley area of Syria, according to The New York Times.
That deal was strongly opposed by U.S. and Iraqi officials.
“The coalition, we are not party to this agreement between Lebanon, Hezbollah and ISIS,” Dillon told the New York Times. “Their claim of fighting terrorism rings hollow when they allow known terrorists to transit territory under their control. ISIS is a global threat, and relocating terrorists from one place to another is not a lasting solution.”
Brett McGurk, U.S. special envoy to the coalition fighting ISIS, took to social media to blast the deal.
“Irreconcilable ISIS terrorists should be killed on the battlefield, not bused across Syria to the Iraqi border without Iraq’s consent,” he posted on Twitter. “Our coalition will help ensure that these terrorists can never enter Iraq or escape from what remains of their dwindling ‘caliphate.’”