Iraqis have denounced a Hezbollah- and Syria-backed deal allowing ISIL fighters to evacuate a Syrian-Lebanese frontier region towards the Iraqi border.
Hundreds of fighters started leaving the area on Monday, heading by bus for Syria’s eastern province of Deir Az Zor, which borders Iraq and is the only Syrian province still under ISIL control.
Haider al-Abadi, Iraq’s prime minister, said on that Tuesday the deal was “unacceptable” and an “insult to the Iraqi people”.
He said Iraq was battling the fighters, not sending them to Syria.
Iraqi forces, who retook Mosul from ISIL, or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group, in July after a nine-month battle, are fighting the last pocket of fighters in the northern province of Nineveh.
Abadi has said Iraqi forces expected to announce victory in the city of Tal Afar within days.
That would see ISIL, also known as ISIS, dislodged from all but a few scattered Iraqi towns – including several close to the border with Syria’s Deir Az Zor.
Iraqi social media users expressed outrage at the evacuation deal, which came a week into a Lebanese army offensive against ISIL and a joint Syrian army-Hezbollah operation against the group on Syrian territory.
Syrian refugees and fighters begin leaving Lebanon border area
In a video posted on Facebook, activist Stephen Nabil called it an “injustice”.
He said it would allow hundreds of fighters to deploy along an “insecure” border, close to three Iraqi desert towns still under ISIL control.
“These are not normal people, and we know what a single car [bomb] or one suicide bomber can do in Baghdad,” he wrote.
On Monday, an ISIL-claimed bombing in the Iraqi capital killed 11 people.
Hisham al-Hashimi, an Iraqi analyst, called the evacuation deal “unjust”.
“The selfish ally is throwing Daesh from Lebanon into Iraq,” he said in a Facebook post, using an Arabic acronym for the group.
“They know that Iraqis destroyed their second biggest city [Mosul] so that Daesh fighters would not escape and Iraq’s neighbours would not be harmed.”
Source: AFP news agency