At Russia’s request, the US military on Friday called off its aerial surveillance of a convoy of Islamic State fighters stuck in the Syrian Desert for 10 days, saying it is now the responsibility of the Syrian government. The 17 buses carried ISIS fighters and their families out of the Lebanese-Syrian battle zone under a deal with Hizballah allowing them to withdraw and head for Deir ez-Zour near the Iraqi border.
Because Syrian troops are now in control of the area, the US-led coalition against the Islamic State agreed to a Russian request to halt the surveillance, in the interests of Russian-US-backed efforts at de-confliction, said Brig. Gen. Jon Braga, director of operations for the U.S.-led coalition in his statement. He added: “As always, we will do our utmost to ensure that the ISIS terrorists do not move toward the border of our Iraqi partners.” The US military also said it killed 85 fighters in the vicinity of the buses who were attempting to escape.