The Lebanese Army, currently locked in combat with ISIL on its border with Syria, has paused in what it calls the “final phase” in its offensive to destroy the Islamic extremists.
Along with elements of the Syrian army and Hezbollah, the Lebanese are trying to evict ISIL from positions within Lebanon, and have been gaining ground, but the pause has been called to allow for a period of negotiations.
The talks are an attempt to secure the release of 30 Lebanese soldiers and police officers captured when ISIL overran the mountains in eastern Lebanon in 2014. They have lost most of that territory since the joint offensive began at the start of August.
The zone under ISIL control straddles Lebanon’s north-eastern border with Syria, and Hezbollah says it has mostly driven ISIL from its pocket on the Syrian side. The area is the last sector of the Lebanese-Syrian border under militant control.