Lebanon’s army has announced a ceasefire in its offensive against ISIL fighters at the country’s northeast border with Syria.
The ceasefire takes effect at 7am local time (04:00 GMT) on Sunday in order to determine the fate of the nine Lebanese soldiers who are in ISIL captivity, the military statement said.
Speaking from Beirut, Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Jamjoom said that this ceasefire was a significant development in Lebanon, considering the fact that “the army seemed very confident just a couple of days ago that they were going to rid those areas of the last remnants of ISIL fighters.”
“Now the Lebanese government is sending out a message that they care for their soldiers, and are tyring to ensure that these soldiers can be released as quickly as possible,” Jamjoom said.
Northeast Lebanon saw one of the worst spillovers of Syria’s war into Lebanon in 2014, when ISIL, or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group, and other armed groups briefly overran the border town of Arsal.
The fate of nine soldiers that ISIL, also known as ISIS, took captive then remains unknown.
The Lebanese army has been battling ISIL fighters in their last border foothold, near the town of Ras Baalbek.
The attack began last week, coinciding with an offensive that Hezbollah and the Syrian army launched against ISIL on the other side of the frontier in Syria’s western Qalamoun region.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies