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Hezbollah says buses from IS convoy stuck in the desert

FILE PHOTO:A convoy of Islamic State fighters and their families begin to depart from the Lebanon-Syria border zone in Qalamoun, Syria August 28, 2017. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki/File Photo

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanon’s Hezbollah group said in a statement on Saturday that it and the Syrian army had fulfilled their obligations by safely transporting a convoy of Islamic State fighters and their families out of Syrian government territory.

However, it said U.S. warplanes were stopping the convoy from moving towards its destination in IS-held territory and were also preventing any aid reaching the buses, which had old people, casualties and pregnant women aboard.

Six buses from the convoy were still in Syrian government territory and in the care of Hezbollah and the Syrian government, the statement said.

Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shi’ite group allied to the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad, called on the international community to intervene to prevent what it called a massacre of the people stuck on the buses in the desert.

The U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State has said it would block the convoy from reaching areas controlled by the jihadist group in eastern Syria but would not attack the convoy because it contains civilians as well as fighters.

The coalition says it has struck Islamic State fighters in vehicles moving towards the convoy but will not strike any civilian vehicles. It said on Friday that the convoy was still in government-held territory.

Reporting By Angus McDowall; Editing by Greg Mahlich