A convoy of Islamic State fighters appears to have turned back after U.S.-led airstrikes thwarted its attempt to reach territory held by the militant group in eastern Syria, the head of U.S.-led forces fighting Islamic State said on Thursday. Rosanna Philpott reports.
A convoy of over 300 armed Islamic State fighters and their families Forced to turn back towards their starting point on the Syria-Lebanon border. They had been trying to reach the safety of IS territory in eastern Syria under a ceasefire agreement with the Syrian army and Lebanese Shi'ite group Hezbollah. Their path though, blocked by U.S.-led warplanes. Airstrikes crater the road and destroy a bridge - as well as targeting an I.S. party that had been on route to meet them. The families had left Syria's border with Lebanon on Monday - and were intercepted near Humeima in eastern Syria. The pro-Syrian government military said on Thursday they tried to find a new route through to join their Jihadist comrades. Now the commander of U.S. -led forces fighting Islamic State says the buses have retreated deeper into Syrian held areas. He told the Pentagon they hadn't attacked the convoy but had struck every IS fighter or vehicle trying to reach it and will continue to do so. The airstrikes may not signal a more aggressive military approach from the U.S. But the standoff shows the tangled nature of a complicated war being fought on many fronts by many different actors. Six years into Syria's civil war IS has lost much of the ground it seized to an array of foes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad backed by Russia rapidly regaining territory this year. While in the north the U.S. which opposes Assad, attacks IS in its stronghold in Raqqa.