First phase of the ceasefire agreement begins on Lebanon-Syria border with the exchange of bodies
Hezbollah and the former al Nusra affiliate, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham handed over bodies of militants on Sunday as part of a ceasefire deal along the Lebanon-Syria border area, the Hezbollah-affiliated al-Manar television station reported.
The truce, announced by the movement and confirmed by Lebanon's General Security agency on Thursday, ended six days of a Hezbollah-led assault on Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham militants in the mountainous Jurud Arsal border region.
"The bodies of nine al-Nusra fighters will be handed over to the Lebanese General Security in exchange for the remains of five Hezbollah fighters who died in the Jurud battles," the outlet said.
It said the bodies of the Syrian militants had been transported to a hospital for medical examinations.
Their remains are then expected to be transported to Syria's northwestern province of Idlib.
Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham used to be called Jabhat al Nusra and was affiliated with al Qaeda in Syria until mid-2016 when it broke off ties, before going on to found a new alliance called Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which now controls large swathes of Idlib.
Hezbollah launched its offensive on Jurud Arsal -- a barren border area used by militants as a hideout for several years -- on July 21.
Nearly 150 Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham militants and about two dozen Hezbollah militants were killed in the offensive.
The group took media outlets on several guided tours of the territory it had secured, including an underground base allegedly used by militants.
Evacuation of militants and refugees
Head of Lebanon's General Security agency Major General Ibrahim Abbas later confirmed the deal, which he said would also see the transfer "within days" of Syrian fighters and refugees to Idlib province with the help of Lebanon's Red Cross.
Tens of thousands of Syrian refugees live in the town of Arsal, adjacent to the border region, while an unknown number are also thought to have taken shelter in the surrounding mountains.
More than one million Syrians are registered with the United Nations as refugees in Lebanon, a country of just four million people.
Hezbollah, which has had an important role in the Syrian civil war supporting regime is expected to launch an offensive against the smaller Daesh enclave near Arsal.