Over the weekend, the offensive against ISIS on the Lebanon-Syria border ended with a ceasefire that amounted to ISIS surrendering the territory, and their remaining fighters, along with any civilians that wished, being evacuated into the Deir Ezzor Province. Buses were to start moving the fighters this week.
US officials are expressing outrage at the deal, and indeed at the notion of any deal, with US Special Envoy Brett McGurk demanding that all of the ISIS fighters “should be killed on the battlefield,” and that busing was inappropriate for them.
McGurk went on to say that the US-led coalition would “ensure that these terrorists can never enter Iraq or escape.” This was followed by US airstrikes against the highway, preventing the convoy from advancing.
This is not the first time McGurk has insisted the US policy on the ISIS war is that they must all be killed where they stand. In June, early in the ISIS invasion, McGurk said the US would ensure all ISIS fighters in Raqqa would die in Raqqa.
Though the deal was to put ISIS in Deir Ezzor, inside Syria, Iraq is loudly objecting to that on the grounds it’s closer to their border than where the ISIS forces are being evacuated from, saying that amounts to an “insult.” US officials seem to believe Iraq not only has the right to veto this deal, but that they can carry out military strikes to prevent the evacuation as a result.
Where this leaves the evacuation is unclear, as the US seems to be holding out for the massacre of 300+ ISIS fighters on the buses, and has threatened to attack the buses if they try to find a new route around the giant hole US warplanes created in the highway they were traveling on.
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