TEL AVIV — The leader of the Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorist group released a statement Wednesday defending the ceasefire agreement between his organization and the Islamic State, which gave hundreds of IS fighters safe passage to the region of al-Bukamal on the border of Syria and Iraq with support from the Syrian regime.
Hezbollah was responding to a statement from Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi expressing anger about the step, which brought hundreds of IS fighters close to Iraq at a time when the Iraqi army is trying to expel the jihadists from its territory.
Abadi said, “This is a very concerning step that is not acceptable. This is a blow to the Iraqi people.” He added, “Iraq is dealing with the extremist organizations and doesn’t send them inside Syria. We take care of the security of Iraqi citizens and we also care for the security of our neighbors. We aren’t aiming to contain IS, but to destroy IS.”
In response to the Iraqi prime minister’s critical comments and the anger from the Iraqi public as expressed on social media, Hassan Nasrallah, the chief of Hezbollah, was forced to release a statement explaining the agreement.
In the statement, Nasrallah claimed, “Following the declaration of our brothers, the leaders of Iraq and the analysis of some Iraqis on the issue of the Syrian-Lebanese border negotiations, and out of love, I would like to say: The agreement refers to IS fighters who were on the Syrian side of the border and were moved to the Deir ez-Zor region in Syria and not from Lebanese territory to Iraqi territory. Most of the organization’s fighters who were moved are Syrians.”
Nasrallah added, “Not many were transferred. These were 310 defeated and broken fighters without any desire to fight again and they won’t change anything in the equation of battle in Deir ez-Zor where it’s claimed there are tens of thousands of fighters (of IS). They were transferred to a desert region where the Syrian army and its allies have been fighting powerfully for a number of months and Hezbollah fighters are the spearhead of the offensive against IS in this region where we’ve lost many lives.”
Nasrallah also explained that his terrorist organization was forced to take the deal in order to solve the issue of the Lebanese soldiers and bodies of Lebanese soldiers that were held by IS. He claimed that this was a major humanitarian issue.
“We could have expelled them militarily but that would have harmed a solution to the Lebanese soldiers problem,” Nasrallah said. He added that Hezbollah has fought against IS with all its force in every place the organization is located and didn’t forget to visit the Iraqi fighters who joined the fighting in Syria alongside the regime and Hezbollah.
At the end of the statement, Nasrallah praised, “The Iraqis for their big victory in Mosul and Tal Afar, victories that were achieved by the blessed blood of the blessed Iraqi fighters. I say to you, our fight is the same fight, our fate is also one and our victories over the terrorists, their allies and those who support them in the region and in the world will be a historic victory.”