"Like Moths To The Flame": ISIS Fighters Cut Down While Approaching Stranded Convoy

Tyler Durden's picture

A convoy of buses containing hundreds of lightly armed ISIS terrorists and their family members remains stuck in the Syrian desert and pinned down as US and coalition planes continue to pick off militants who stray too far from the group. External ISIS vehicles have also tried to access and aid the group, but as US coalition spokesman Army Col. Ryan S. Dillon statedcoalition aircraft are picking them off as they come close "like moths to the flame."

Dillon estimated that over 40 ISIS vehicles were destroyed, including nearly 100 terrorists killed, while heading toward the convoy as the coalition has been "able to continue to just observe and pick them off one at a time.” But on Friday afternoon the US alliance announced the sudden withdrawal of its surveillance aircraft over the site at Russia's request, publishing the following statement:

At approximately 7am GMT Sept. 8, Syrian pro-regime forces advanced past the 11-bus convoy of ISIS terrorists and non-combatants in the eastern Syrian desert. To ensure safe de-confliction of efforts to defeat ISIS, coalition surveillance aircraft departed the adjacent airspace at the request of Russian officials during their assault on Dawyr Az Zawyr.

The Syrian Army and Hezbollah in the Qara area in Syria's Qalamoun mountains when the ISIS bus convoy deal was initiated on August 28, 2017. Photo source: AFP/Louai Beshara

ISIS convoy in Syria. Photo source: Louai Beshara/Agence France-Presse

The convoy has been stranded in no-man's land on the Syrian battlefield since at least last Wednesday (9/30) after its progress was halted by US coalition airstrikes along the evacuation route, including a key bridge. The Lebanese government and Hezbollah arranged a deal with Syria to allow the convoy to pass as ISIS fighters and their families were transferred from northeast Lebanon after loosing a decisive battle there. In exchange, ISIS handed over the bodies of previously kidnapped Lebanese soldiers as well as a the body of an Iranian Revolutionary Guards officer to Hezbollah.

The deal, which President Assad acknowledged as "an embarrassment" has been mired in controversy as it would result in experienced ISIS fighters being dropped in eastern Syria along the Iraq border. Both Iraq and the US have vociferously protested the arrangement, essentially labeling the deal an intentional terror transfer that will hinder Iraq's ongoing anti-ISIS fight. 

But US officials have failed to acknowledged that the deal was first and foremost brokered by the Lebanese government, specifically Prime Minister Saad Hariri and President Michel Aoun. A reluctant Assad agreed to let the convoy pass after the personal intervention of Nasrallah, who argued the deal would result in fewer Lebanese lives lost as the army sought to root out the final few hundred ISIS fighters in the border region of Arsal after their recent overall defeat (in what was set to be a "fight to the death" scenario). The United States has given over $1 billion in military aid to Lebanon over the past years, and itself contributed US special forces support for the successful Arsal anti-ISIS campaign. While the US coalition has highlighted Hezbollah's role in the deal, it has conveniently side-stepped the lead role of its own allies in the Lebanese government.  

For the past week and a half a catch-22 standoff has developed: Syria made a difficult and embarrassing deal - in Hezbollah leader's Hassan Nasrallah's words "for the sake of Lebanon" - yet it's a deal which is going unfulfilled as the US coalition intervened to stop the evacuation. At the same time Hezbollah fighters are escorting the convoy as part of upholding its end of the bargain. Friday's Operation Inherent Resolve statement confirms that though Russia waived off American surveillance in the area, the coalition's stance has not changed, nor does it appear that the remaining ISIS buses have moved:

“From the start of this situation on Aug. 29, we have placed responsibility for the buses and passengers on the Syrian regime, who in conjunction with Lebanese Hezbollah brokered a deal with ISIS to move its terrorists into Iraq,” said Brig. Gen. Jon Braga, director of operations for the Coalition. “The regime’s advance past the convoy underlines continued Syrian responsibility for the buses and terrorists. As always, we will do our utmost to ensure that the ISIS terrorists do not move toward the border of our Iraqi partners,” said Braga.

The ISIS fighters and their families have continued to be provided food and water through Syrian government lines. The group exited Lebanon with 17 chartered buses along with an unknown number of individual vehicles - all attempting to make it to ISIS held Abu Kamal in Deir Ezzor Province close to the Iraq border, but that number was reduced to 11 this week as 6 buses returned to an unknown fate in Syrian government territory. In a speech announcing specifics at the beginning of the evacuation, Nasrallah put the original numbers at 308 ISIS fighters and 331 civilian family members in the convoy.  Wounded ISIS members travelling in ambulances reportedly made it to Islamic State territory ahead of the convoy last week. 

The US coalition has stated its desire to separate the militants from their families in order to destroy the ISIS terrorists. Apparently there are even pregnant women in the group - this according to Hezbollah's Al Manar news network. The US issued a statement Tuesday, saying, “Coalition leaders have communicated a course of action to the Russians, providing the Syrian regime an opportunity to remove the women and children from this situation.”

Though the whole arrangement is one of the more bizarre deals to come out of the Syrian war, it's been widely seen as a blow to ISIS propaganda and recruiting efforts. Last week Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk reported, "some ISIS leaders in Syria did not want members of the group who had surrendered territory to be welcomed back into the so-called caliphate, and the militants should have fought to the death instead." Other observers of Islamic State social media accounts have noted that ISIS members initially reacted in disbelief, claiming the entire brokered deal and ISIS retreat to be a fiction of Hezbollah media.

With the Syrian Army's assault on Deir Ezzor city successfully underway, it is likely that Assad's calculation was to allow the pressure to be let off Lebanon (and perhaps repaying a favor to Hezbollah, which has sacrificed much to defend Syria) with the thinking that the ISIS stronghold of Deir Ezzor Province would be the next to be pummeled anyway. In meantime, this stranded ISIS convoy episode continues to be among the more bizarre waiting games of the entire war.

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Wild E Coyote's picture

Islamic Caliphate does not want any of its fighters to withdraw or give up territory. 

US is obliging the Caliphate by killing the withdrawing fighters on their behalf. Wow.

At the same time, US is transporting the ISIS fighters from Deir Azzor to safety on behalf of their leaders. Wow again.

This is not America. la la la la ~ David Bowie

and I am really going crazy.  

ChaoKrungThep's picture

The deal was to 1) relieve Lebanese & Hezbollah forces (remember Lebanon was/is part of Syria), 2) gain propganda for Assad as a forgiving victor, not the beast ISIS claims. The US/ISIS crew don't want people returning saying good things about Assad, so they must disappear. The US game is unraveling through their usual ignorance and stupid arrogance.   

redmudhooch's picture

What a clusterfuck. I'm sure all this would make an awesome movie.

Why don't our govt. (USSA) just come out and be honest with us, just tell us what the hell this is all about.

Oh, thats right, if we knew the truth we would all revolt, and start scalping mthrfuckers. Nevermind.

Continue with the bullshit. Don't mind me.


tangent's picture

Its about arab extemists who we really should have no interest in because its none of our business. The US did enough damage in their funding of ISIS. The best they can do is leave.

What did the US do to stop Afghanistan from tearing down their ancient historical statues? Nothing, because they like tearing down their historic statues because of their own version of the Taliban called Antifa. That Afghanistan war against history was more interesting than this situation. I don't care if ISIS kills every last US troop in Afghanistan because they are asking for it. While I do have a slight bit of loyalty to the US, it doesn't extend to traitors. Bush told Afghanistan he wouldn't attack them if they handed over Osama Bin Ladin according to his own speech before going in. They agreed to hand him over upon being submitted the evidence. No evidene was ever submitted and they went in any way. Their stated reason for being there ended two months into the campaign when he left. That was the time to leave, except they were lying the whole time and the US empire just wanted to murder people for fun and profit... just thugs being thugs.

Trump is gullible to believe his moron generals who want to play politics and "stablize" the region. I'm not sure what their angle is but I doubt they are serious... though I can't rule out them literally being mental retards with an IQ of 80. Correct me if I'm wrong but you would have to be literally mentally retarded to think the US can stablize Afghanistan?

Horse Pizzle's picture

A pregnant muzzie is a two fer.

Ben A Drill's picture

That's got to be one stinky bus. I bet the shitter is overflowing.

ChaoKrungThep's picture

You really believe they all politely use the bus toilet? Wake up. They're in the desert, bozo. Left hand rules.

Ben A Drill's picture

If they don't want to get shot then yeah.

haruspicio's picture

More US hypocrisy as they made a similar deal in reverse with ISIS in Mosul.....indeed they escorted the fighters with helicopters for them to fight in Syria.

sinbad2's picture

There is, was a video on youtube of an American Apache helicopter escorting a huge ISIS convoy when they first invaded Syria.

sinbad2's picture

Meanwhile the Syrian army has entered Deir Ezzor, and the US is warning Syria not to cross the Euphrates and enter eastern Syria.

The US is claiming the Khabur valley, as a home away from home, because it is rich in oil.

It will be interesting to see if the Syrians will stop, or continue to liberate all of Syria.



Syria has dropped off the western media's radar, now the US is in retreat, the British have gone home, the French accept Assad as Syrian President, Qatar has stopped paying ISIS, and Bibi is asking Putin for help.

Conscious Reviver's picture

Read this. The Syrians, Russians and Iranians have events well in hand.


The SouthFront report is a bit of a tease because no one in the US command structure will confim the aledged ststatement.

The Allies objective is to regain all of Syria. Godspeed.

sinbad2's picture

Good link, I bookmarked the site.

Kaiser Sozey's picture


Bomb the snot out of ISIS with extreme prejudice. I do like me some Matis strikes in the morning. 

Frankly Speaking's picture

Just a brief reiminder that most of these posts are anti islmic so in Dingland, you'd be going to jail.

dunce's picture

What they never talk about is that muslims only take prisoners for slaves or ransom. If they don't get ransom they get dead.

Conscious Reviver's picture

When you say Muslims, you are wrong. You are describing ISIS. Yes they are Whahabbi Sunni Muslims, but not all Muslims are ISIS obviously and not all Muslims are Wahabbi's.

The Syrian Arab Army SAA that has done more ISIS killing on the ground in Syria than any other group and they are mostly Sunni Muslims.

The Syrian government has a very successful program for surrendering rebels that can prove they are Syrian. If they haven't committed crimes like massacres, they are welcomed back into Syrian society and many times into the ranks of the SAA. Foreign terrorists get a different deal..

Uninformed, overly broad generalizations are not helpful.

Australia is not Austria.

Watch this -ANNA NEWS presents: Deir ez-Zor under siege (Documentary)


Setarcos's picture

Yes, but please don't try to confuse the poor soul with facts.  Next you'll be trying to inform him that Al Qaida/ISIS/etc. are all one and the same, i.e. basically CIA mercenaries, since Afghanistan in the 1980s.  Do you really want to be responsible for his head exploding?  I'll take a chance myself by recalling that Saddam Hussein's Iraq was a US ally and got the go-ahead to invade Kuwait (April Glaspie), but then Washington changed its collective mind and did a turkey-shoot on retreating Iraqi soldiers and civilians.  Thus a "proud" precedent for now killing former ISIS allies.  Actually this "principle" is normal, e.g. Ho Chi Minh was an ally during WW2 and so was Russia, just for two major examples.  Come to that, numerous treaties were signed with Indian tribes.  None were kept, they got massacred.  Truly exceptional.

LA_Goldbug's picture

He will think you are making this all up.

GodSpeed_00's picture

Exchange living terrorists for dead bodies? Okay. 

dogismycopilot's picture

They probably ate the bus driver by now. 

zimboe's picture

Don't send 'em lead, send 'em ketchup.

TeraByte's picture

I did not care, if they were wiped out by anybody. It is not a humanitarian problem, but pest control.

zimboe's picture

Gosh, what a tragic waste of human life. Then again, buzzards gotta eat too.

(stolen from Clint Eastwood in "The Outlaw Josie Wales". A fine film.)

tangent's picture

The US troops are in violation of the US constitution because no war has been declared by US Congress in Syria. I wonder if they should be executed for high treason, or just sent to prison for a long time for high treason? What should happen to the criminal US troops in Syria?

perkunas's picture

What a load of propaganda!!!.

What makes you think America is not for the terrorists, when all the do, is fund, and support them at every turn.

They give the Saudis Massive amounts of arms, and they openly back ISIS. That's why ISSIS uses American made weapons. America directly supports the so called rebels, with arms and funding. They are nothing more then ISIS, they have Cut Christians heads off, and crucified their children  Trump bombs Assad the guy fighting ISSIS and Yemen, they are being attacked by the Saudi's, because they don't like their form of jihadist government.

Trump has children's blood on his hands.


miketv's picture

"US and coalition planes continue to pick off militants who stray too far from the group" you're really still pretending they aren't US allies?  ffs


Crazed Smoker's picture

Americans are relay that invested in Syria?  Ugh.

aloha_snakbar's picture

ISIS tailgating in the desert... why has this been news for a month now?

Vlad the Inhaler's picture

Can we start a GoFundMe page to hire some private contrators to quickly end this situation?  I'll bet it would be funded pretty quickly.

o r c k's picture

Kindly let ISIS pass and they'll hand over the bodies of their murder victims. Only the US military could make such a deal. I'll meet you at the vomitorium.  

Aubiekong's picture

air drop them bud light and hotdogs!  The real cheap pork ones with mystery meat kind of stuff!

SmittyinLA's picture

Is this an "art project" designed to enrage the 85% of the world's Muslims that are Sunni?

Our got seems to be pushing a exterminate Sunni Muslims and sunni Muslim sovereignty.

Looks like ethnic cleansing in Mosul.