U.S. Concerned over Kidnappings in Lebanon
The United States has expressed deep concern on the Syrian civil war’s spill over into Lebanon and called on all sides to exercise restraint following a string of kidnappings.
“We are deeply concerned about spillover from the Syrian crisis that could impact on the stability, on the sovereignty of Lebanon, and we firmly condemn kidnapping as a tactic,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said on Thursday.
“We call on all sides to exercise restraint,” she said after members of Lebanon's al-Meqdad clan kidnapped several Syrians in retaliation for the seizure of a family member, Hassan al-Meqdad, by the Free Syrian Army in Syria this week.
“We welcome efforts by Lebanese leaders and security forces to try to calm the situation. We think that in general, Lebanese security forces have done a superb job,” she told reporters
“This kind of violence that we’ve seen in Lebanon, violence we’ve seen with regard to Lebanese citizens, is further to the damage that (Syrian President Bashar) Assad is wreaking not only on his own country, but potentially on the neighborhood with his violence,” Nuland said.
The tensions became worse after masked men from the Bekaa town of Majdal Anjar burned tires and set up roadblocks on the main highway leading to the Masnaa border crossing between Lebanon and Syria.
They stopped cars going either way and checked passengers' IDs before deciding whether to let them pass, apparently looking for al-Meqdad supporters.
In the nearby town of Chtaura, four gunmen abducted Syrian businessman Hussam Khasroum, pulling him from his car as he was driving and taking him to an unknown location, security officials said. Khasroum, the officials said, is known to be a supporter of Assad's regime.
Asked if the U.S was considering asking Americans to leave Lebanon, Nuland said the U.S. already had travel warnings for American citizens in Lebanon that were updated a month ago when violence started to spike.
She said she had no information to share on any further notices at the moment.