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Islamic State group delays killing of captured Lebanese troops

The Islamic State threatened to kill Lebanese soldiers and police officers it is holding hostage but has postponed its threat as negotiations continue with the Lebanese government
Lebanese soldiers drive an armoured vehicle into the town of Arsal, near the Syrian border on 4 August (AFP)

The Islamic State (IS) militant group in Syria has postponed its earlier threat to kill one captured Lebanese soldier every three days if Lebanon's Shiite Hezbollah group was not excluded from prisoner-exchange talks, a group leader has said.

Members of IS captured 24 Lebanese police officers and soldiers during fighting earlier this month and has since been in negotiations with Lebanese officials over their fate.

"We agreed to extend our ultimatum for two more days after receiving an initial positive response from the Lebanese government regarding the prisoners," the leader, requesting anonymity, told Anadolu Agency in an interview conducted online Thursday.

The group declined to provide details on the negotiations.

On Tuesday, IS threatened to begin killing one Lebanese soldier captured in Syria every three days if Hezbollah wasn't excluded from prisoner-exchange talks between IS and the Lebanese government.

The IS representative went on to accuse the Lebanese militant group of obstructing the ongoing negotiations.

Arsal, the Lebanese border town from which IS has captured the soldiers, has seen intense fighting between the Lebanese army and militants - believed to have come from Syria - in early August.

At least 17 Lebanese troops have been killed and 86 injured in the recent fighting.

The violence broke out after gunmen - said to be Islamic State militants - attacked security and army sites in Arsal, abducting a number of citizens and troops in retaliation for the arrest of Imad Ahmad Jomaa, a rebel commander who had recently sworn allegiance to the group.

The violence has largely destroyed several refugee camps that accommodate thousands of Syrian refugees, prompting many of the latter to flee the town.

Along with the influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees, Lebanon has been hard hit by the civil war in neighbouring Syria.

The small coastal country has witnessed a surge in militant attacks in recent months in response to Hezbollah's role in the Syria conflict, where the Shiite militant group has fought alongside Syrian government troops.

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