A United Nations vehicle transported the two fighters, as well as the father of one of them, from the Syrian town of Zabadani to Lebanon, after an agreement with government forces and Damascus ally Hezbollah to grant safe passage, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
If implemented, the agreement would be another rare example of worldwide diplomacy successfully brokering an end to fighting in specific areas in Syria.
Already, however, the Russian move has thrown into disarray three years of U.S. policy planning on Syria, derailing calculations about how the conflict will play out that may never have come to fruition and now almost certainly won’t.
Young men from the town of Saraqeb blocked the road that Syria’s Red Crescent would have used to escort civilians out of Fuaa and Kafraya and south into regime-controlled territory in Hama province, he said.
He said that relying exclusively on air strikes would not defeat the jihadists and that USA efforts to recruit and train so-called moderate Syrian rebels to fight on the ground were evidence of a “devastating failure” by its anti-ISS coalition.
“We could have taken control of Zabadani a long time ago, 16 or 17 days after the battle began, but we (the Syrian army and Hezbollah) saw it as a chance to achieve some goals, including the liberation of the Foua and Kefraya”, Nasrallah said in an interview with Al-Manar. “Both sides needed a deal”, says Abu Khalil, a veteran Hezbollah fighter who has served more than 20 combat tours in Syria, including in Zabadani.
The second stage, he added, will include a 6-month truce in Bouqein, Serghaya, Madaya and al-Zabadani area in Damascus Countryside and in Kefraya, al-Fouaa, Binnish and Taftanaz in Idleb.
Netanyahu was accompanied on the trip by Gadi Eisenkot, the Israel Defense Forces’ chief of staff, who met with his Russian counterpart Valery Grasimov, reportedly agreeing to form a joint committee to coordinate the two militaries’ respectivw activities in the war-ravaged country, where Russia is supporting the embattled regime of President Bashar Assad.
Fuaa and Kafraya are Shi’ite villages, and were left surrounded by al-Qaeda after recent military losses in the province.
The deal had been reached in talks backed by Iran.
The unit, which included about 70 rebels, were trained in Turkey and sent back to Syria last weekend.