By Wasim Saif al-Din
Lebanese police chief on Sunday said six bodies of soldiers kidnapped by Daesh in August 2014 were delivered to the authorities, hours after the military announced a cease-fire and a halt in its offensive against Daesh along its northeastern border with Syria.
The move was aimed at paving the ground for negotiations to decide the fate of Lebanese soldiers held hostage by the terror group.
Chief of Police Abbas Ibrahim said the bodies were believed to belong to the kidnapped soldiers.
"So far, we have received six bodies we think belong to the kidnapped soldiers. We will receive two more bodies," he said.
"We have had knowledge of the fate of the kidnapped soldiers since February 2015, but we were not able to make a statement as we could not confirm [the incident]," the police chief added.
In an earlier statement, the army command said the cease-fire came into effect today at 7 a.m. [1000 GMT], and that is to make way for the last phase of negotiations on the fate of kidnapped soldiers.
Nine days back, the Lebanese army had launched an offensive to dislodge Daesh terrorists from a mountainous area near the Syria border.
Coinciding with the military operation, Lebanese group Hezbollah also announced that its fighters, along with Syrian regime forces, had begun an onslaught to recapture the outskirts of Qalamoun from Daesh in western Syria.
On Aug. 2, 2014, Daesh announced it took 11 Lebanese soldiers as hostages on the outskirts of Arsal on the Syrian-Lebanese border; later the terror group executed two of them.
Hezbollah also said "a cease-fire starting at 7 a.m. comes within the framework of a comprehensive agreement to end the battle in Western Qalamoun".
Hezbollah Secretary-General Hasan Nasrallah on Thursday confirmed negotiations were being held with Daesh.
Earlier this month, Lebanese forces and Hezbollah fighters captured Juroud Arsal town near the Syrian border after a military operation against militants based in the area.