Lebanon army halts offensive against IS to retrieve missing soldiers

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-27 15:50:59|Editor: Song Lifang
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BEIRUT, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- Lebanon's army announced a pause on Sunday in its offensive against Islamic State (IS) militants along the border with Syria to allow for negotiations on troops taken hostage in 2014, the army said in a statement.

"The army command announces a ceasefire beginning at 7:00 am (0400 GMT) to make way for the last phase of negotiations linked to the fate of the kidnapped soldiers," the statement said.

Nine troops are believed to still be held by IS after militants overran the Lebanese border town of Arsal in August 2014 and kidnapped 30 soldiers and police.

Four were killed by their captors and a fifth died of his wounds, while 16 were released in a prisoner swap in December 2015.

The army said the remaining missing troops were its "top concern" in its offensive against an estimated 600 IS fighters in the hilly border region.

"The negotiations are ongoing for IS to withdraw and provide information on the fate of the troops," the source added.