Lebanon, Hezbollah suspend ISIS fight for soldiers' release

Lebanese soldiers in Ras Baalbek, where they have been fighting ISIS militants near the Syrian border.

Story highlights

  • Nine Lebanese soldiers are believed to be held by ISIS
  • The Syrian war breached the border with Lebanon in 2014

(CNN)Lebanon's army and the armed group Hezbollah have announced a pause in their fight against ISIS on the country's border with Syria to allow final negotiations for the release of soldiers being held hostage.

ISIS had kidnapped a group of Lebanese soldiers and police in 2014 after it briefly held the Lebanese town of Arsal -- along with other armed groups -- near the country's northeastern border. Nine soldiers are believed to be still held by ISIS.
The army made the announcement on Twitter and Facebook, describing the pause as a "ceasefire" that began at 7 a.m. local time (12 a.m. ET) on Sunday. It is unclear whether ISIS has agreed to any ceasefire.
    "In principle, ISIS has been surrounded. In the past two days we have destroyed them, we killed 70 to 80 of them," Lebanese Army spokesperson Col. Fadi Abou Eid told CNN.
    Hezbollah, a militant and political group, has been fighting ISIS on the Syrian side of the border in the West Qalamoun region. Hezbollah is fighting alongside Syrian regime troops.
    Abou Eid denied that the Lebanese army and Hezbollah had coordinated the suspension of their operations, even though they were announced on the same day and took effect at the same time.
    Coordinating with Hezbollah would be politically sensitive as Lebanon is a US ally, and the US has designated Hezbollah a terrorist organization.