With the highway in front of them destroyed by US warplanes, a convoy of buses provided to take some 300 ISIS fighters and some 300 family members and other civilians away from the Syria-Lebanon border to Deir Ezzor Province remain stuck, perhaps irreversibly so.
The US attacked the highway specifically to prevent the convoy from getting through, and has demanded that all ISIS fighters aboard be killed. US Special Envoy Brett McGurk insists that busing ISIS is inappropriate, and they must all die on the battlefield.
The buses didn’t just stay in the middle of the desert, however, and started moving back the other direction, with some suggestions they might try an alternate route through a still existing highway. US spokesman Col. Ryan Dillon insisted the US would attack if they did so, to make sure they don’t reach the destination.
The offensive against ISIS forces in the border region is over, with everyone having left, though Lebanon reported they’d arrested a suspected ISIS commander who stayed behind. A ceasefire and evacuation deal, while common with other rebels, is unprecedented with ISIS.
No one, however, appeared to anticipate that the US would object so violently to such a deal to end fighting on the Lebanon border, as while US offiicals have long insisted their ISIS policy is one of extermination, this is the first time they’ve gone out of their way to militarily undermine deals negotiated by other groups simply because extermination didn’t happen in a timely fashion.