Govt., Hizbullah Working to Curb Street Anger as Mashnouq Says Captive Soldiers' Case 'Will Take Time'إقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Contacts are ongoing between the government and the Hizbullah leadership in order to contain the tensions on the street in light of the demonstrations staged in protest against the murder of soldier Abbas Medlej at the hands of his Islamist captors over the weekend, reported As Safir newspaper on Monday.
Resolving the case of the captive soldiers and policemen will likely “take some time”, said Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq.
“The contacts are ongoing with Hizbullah and on all fronts,” he told the daily.
The talks included Hussein Khalil, Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah's aide, and Wafiq Safa, the party's liaison and coordination officer.
“The contacts focused on averting strife because that is the abductors' goal,” added Mashnouq.
The talks were carried out by Prime Minister Tammam Salam and Mashnouq on the one hand and Khalil and Safa on the other, said As Safir.
“The officials agree that the Islamic State group is seeking to create Sunni-Shiite strife,” it reported.
“They agreed that such a plan should be thwarted,” it added.
Moreover, it stated that Hizbullah had carried out intense efforts in its areas of influence in order to contain the anger sparked by Medlej's beheading and protect Syrian refugees.
Anger has swept through the Lebanese people over the execution of Medlej at the hands of Islamists that had kidnapped him and a number of other Lebanese from the northeastern border town of Arsal in August.
Tents housing Syrian refugees in encampments in Beirut's southern suburb neighborhoods of al-Lailaki and Hay al-Sellom were torched after news emerged on the beheading
Other refugees were given an ultimatum to leave the towns they are residing.
About two dozen more members of the country's security forces remain held captive by the militants. They were seized in August when several Syrian rebel factions, including the Islamic State group and al-Qaida linked Nusra Front, overran Arsal, killing and kidnapping soldiers and policemen in the most serious spillover yet of the neighboring civil war.
The family of Medlej issued a statement late on Saturday calling for warding off sedition and preventing takfiris from infiltrating the country and achieving their goals.
As news broke that Medlej was executed, angry protesters took to the streets and blocked roads in Beirut's southern suburbs, Bekaa's Ablah, al-Labweh, al-Ain, and the northern town of Halba.
There are fears that Syrian refugees would be assaulted in retaliation to the beheading of the two army soldiers, however, the Islamic groups warned of any revenge act.
Efforts are underway with Qatar to negotiate the release of the kidnapped security personnel.
Mashnouq told As Safir that a delegation from Qatar is handling the negotiations with the captors.
He added however that the negotiator is not a Qatari national.
The delegation had met with the Islamists last week in order to negotiate the release of the captives.
The militants are reportedly demanding the release of a number of fellow Islamists from Roumieh prison and a ransom of five million dollars.
Ministerial sources told An Nahar daily on Monday that the negotiations are at a standstill because the government is still adamant in respecting the red lines it placed over the negotiations.