Naharnet

Families of Arsal Servicemen Abandon Escalation as Captive Meets Loved Ones

The families of the servicemen kidnapped by jihadists in the northeastern border town of Arsal announced that they will not escalate their actions in the wake of the positive developments in the file over the past 24 hours.

They said, according to Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3): “We will back down from our decision to escalate our actions and remain silent instead, in a hope to resolve this humanitarian file.”

Meanwhile, the family of a Internal Security Forces member held captive by the al-Qaida-affiliated al-Nusra Front was to meet with its loved one, reported MTV.

It said that the extremist group granted Mohammed Taleb's family permission to meet with him.

They met him on the outskirts of Arsal later on Saturday.

The soldier is one of several servicemen who were kidnapped by the Islamic State and al-Nusra Front groups in the wake of battles between the army and the jihadists in Arsal in August.

A number of the servicemen have since been released, four were executed, while the rest remain held.

On Friday, Lebanese authorities were handed the corpse of civilian Mamdouh Younes and soldier Ali Qassem Ali, who were killed in Arsal.

Media reports had said that negotiations with the IS had started earlier this week following an initiative by Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat and in coordination with General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim, Army chief Jean Qahwaji and army intelligence director Edmond Fadel.

Health Minister Wael Abou Faour, at Jumblat's instructions, “began direct, intensive negotiations with the IS through local mediators, which resulted this morning in the handing over of the bodies.”

In April, al-Nusra Front handed over to Lebanon the body of Lebanese policeman Ali al-Bazzal, who was executed late last year.

M.T.


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