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US says 17-bus IS convoy stranded in Syrian desert

Coalition fighting jihadist group says looking to help move wives, children of IS fighters towards Iraqi border

Syrian forces members stand on a tank next to a vehicle waiting to transport Islamic State group members in the Qara area in Syria's Qalamoun region on August 28, 2017. (AFP/Louai Beshara)
Syrian forces members stand on a tank next to a vehicle waiting to transport Islamic State group members in the Qara area in Syria's Qalamoun region on August 28, 2017. (AFP/Louai Beshara)

The US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State jihadist group says a 17-bus convoy of IS militants and their families is stranded in the Syrian desert.

There are some 300 gunmen and 300 civilians on the buses, which the Syrian army and Hezbollah granted safe passage and which was headed toward Iraq after the Islamist State terrorists surrendered their enclave on the Syrian-Lebanon border.

The coalition issued a statement Friday saying it has sought an unspecified solution that would save the women and children in the convoy from further suffering.

It said the coalition has not attacked the convoy.

But it said it had struck IS fighters and vehicles, including a tank and other armed vehicles, that tried to help the convoy move to the Iraqi border.

The coalition said its officials have contacted Russian counterparts to deliver a message to Syria’s government, which had tried to facilitate the convoy’s movement earlier this week from western Syria to an area near the Iraqi border.

Also on Friday, the coalition ousted IS from Raqa’s Old City, bringing them closer than ever to the jihadist bastion’s well-defended and densely populated heart.

The jihadist group has lost much of the territory it controlled in the two countries, and thousands of its fighters have been killed since late 2014, when the coalition was formed to defeat the group.

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