The U.S. military on Friday pulled back surveillance aircraft that had been watching an 11-bus ISIS convoy filled with hundreds of militants and their family members -- at the request of the Russian government.
The ISIS convoy was given safe passage over 10 days ago to travel from the Lebanon-Syria border across the Syrian desert to the Iraqi border in a deal struck between Syria and Hezbollah, which angered the U.S. military.
Since the convoy departed, U.S. drones have picked off ISIS fighters when they left the convoy to relieve themselves, according to U.S. officials.
“We were able to exploit it and take advantage,” said Army Col. Ryan Dillon, a U.S. coalition spokesman Thursday during a press conference from Baghdad.
The Russian military requested U.S. drones depart the area through the “de-confliction” line, as Russian-backed Syrian forces battle to recapture the ISIS-held city of Deir ez-Zor, located in eastern Syria.
The U.S. official was confident the U.S. military would pick up surveillance of the ISIS fighters in the future and said they would not threaten U.S. military forces located in other parts of Syria.
A U.S. Army general said he would hold the Assad regime in Syria responsible for dealing with the convoy.