At the late Hours of October 25, ISIS cells in the area of al-Safa, north of the governorate of al-Suwayda, handed over the bodies of 50 Syrian soldiers, who were killed during clashes there, to the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), according to the Syrian news outlet Enab Baladi.
From its side, the Damascus government returned the bodies of 15 ISIS fighters and allowed 4 trucks carrying food and other supplies to enter al-Safa.
These steps are a part of the wider agreement to end the presence of the terrorist group in al-Safa and release more than 20 hostages, who were abducted by ISIS elements during a brutal attack in late July. Under the agreement, the first 6 hostages were released last week in exchange for 25 people affiliated with ISIS.
A source familiar with the situation told the al-Suwayda 24 blog that the U.S. is a part of the agreement with ISIS. According to the source, the US-led coalition released several ISIS members from its prisons in eastern Syria last week in the framework of the deal.
The Syria-based blog said that a disagreement between Russia and the U.S. is delaying the release of the second batch of hostages. While Russia wants the remaining ISIS fighters to withdraw to northern Hama, the U.S. wants to move them to the town of Hajin in the Euphrates Valley.
Over the past months, the US-led coalition has been actively using the ISIS presence in Hajin as a justification of its military presence in Syria because ISIS is still “not defeated”. The only problem is that the US-led coalition and its “partners” on the ground known as the Syrian Democratic Forces are not so hurrying to eliminate the Hajin pocket.