Prisoner Swap Frees 400 ISIS Fighters for Bodies of 8 Lebanese Soldiers
Although the Middle East is accustomed to lopsided prisoner exchanges which are reflexively presumed to involve Israel and whichever hostile entity it most recently fought, a swap of 400 armed terrorists for eight bodies that is the latest such deal does not include the Jewish state. The transfer of some 400 ISIS members captured by the Lebanese army and their families began on Monday. In what appears to be a sweetheart deal for the Islamic State terrorists, their fighters’ extended families are being taken on 17 air-conditioned buses to ISIS home turf in eastern Syria – buses that ISIS apparently gets to keep along with 11 ambulances. The Syrian state-run news agency SANA confirmed that the transfers had begun on Monday. According to the Beirut-based Daily Star, the Lebanese negotiator, who is the army’s head of intelligence, defended the one-sided agreement by saying “Lebanon adheres to a policy of a state that does not exact revenge.” The deal represented the meeting of the minds of two region’s two most virulent terrorist organizations: the Islamic State and notably, the Iranian-backed terror proxy Hizbullah speaking for Lebanon. For American observers, the prisoner swap provides additional evidence of the inexorable melding of Hizbullah and the Lebanese army [read government], raising legal and logistical issues relative to American aid and foreign policy.