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Militants prepare to vacate Syria border

01 Août 2017

Khaled Raad, a member of the refugees' Coordination Committee with the Lebanese government, says the vast majority of the refugees in Lebanon's Arsal border region will not accept to return to Syria, for fear of war, hardship, and oppressive jihadist rule.

Al Jazeera reports that Hezbollah lost two dozen fighters and the al-Qaeda affiliate about 150.

Lebanon and Syria are waiting for the final arrangements to be completed with al-Qaida-linked militants to bus 9,000 fighters, their family members, and other refugees from the Arsal area to Syria's northwest, al-Qaida-dominated Idlib province.

Hezbollah fighters stand on their army vehicle at the site where clashes erupted between Hezbollah and al-Qaida-linked fighters in Wadi al-Kheil or al-Kheil Valley in the Lebanon-Syria border, Saturday, July 29, 2017.

Also to be evacuated are members of the Free Syrian Army affiliate, Saraya Ahl al-Sham, who did not participate in last week's battles with Hezbollah. Those fighters will head to the government-held town of Ruhaiba, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) northeast of the Syrian capital Damascus where they will benefit from an amnesty by the state and return to normal life, according to Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV. Syrian Central Military Media said the convoy heading to Idlib will drive through the central province of Homs and the northern province of Aleppo before reaching Idlib.

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In the northern city of Raqqa, at least two people were killed when a mine planted by members of the Islamic State group exploded, Syrian opposition activists said.

The monitoring group said that a auto bomb in the Nazlet Shehadeh area, south of Raqqa, struck people who were trying to flee ISIS-held territory in the province.

The U.S. -backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces has been on the offensive in the declared capital of the Islamic State since June 6, capturing nearly half the city. Almost two months of fighting have left hundreds of people dead and wounded.

"Patients tell us large numbers of sick and wounded people are trapped inside Raqqa city with little or no access to medical care and scant chance of escaping the city", said Vanessa Cramond, the group's medical coordinator for Turkey and north Syria. Most patients are civilians with conflict-related injuries caused by bombs, land mines, unexploded ordnance, shrapnel and gunshot wounds, the statement said.