Zgheib: No Decision Taken by Families of Abducted Pilgrims to Rally in Front of Syria, Iran Embassiesإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
The key to resolving the abduction of the Lebanese pilgrims in Syria lies in Turkey's hands, not Syria and Iran, reported the pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat on Sunday.
Sheikh Abbas Zgheib, who has been tasked by the Higher Islamic Shiite Council to follow up the case, told the daily: “The families of the pilgrims have not yet taken the decision to stage a protest in front of the Syrian and Iranian Embassies in Beirut.”
The pilgrims had recently requested that their families hold the rallies in front of the embassies.
“Such a protest will not benefit the cause because Damascus and Tehran do not play an influential role in the case,” he explained.
“Only Turkey plays an influential role in the affair,” he stressed.
“If the Syrian opposition believes that Iran is taking part in the Syrian crisis, then how can an enemy interfere in the case of the pilgrims?” Zgheib asked.
“This is not a reasonable request and if the families do comply with it, then they will be doing so for emotional reasons, not sound ones,” he added.
He therefore urged Turkey to resolve this issue “in order to maintain normal ties with Lebanon.”
The nine Lebanese Shiite pilgrims abducted in Syria had telephoned their families, urging them to demonstrate in front of the Iranian and Syrian embassies in Beirut, media reports said on Friday.
“I talked to (abductee) Ali Zgheib and everyone (of the abductees) spoke with his family and they said they're in good health,” Awad Ibrahim -- who was freed in September after being kidnapped with the group in May -- told LBCI television.
“The families were surprised at 5:30 p.m. when they received phone calls from their relatives,” MTV reported, adding that “each conversation lasted two hours and at the end of the conversation the abductees asked their families to demonstrate outside the Iranian and Syrian embassies.”
The TV network quoted the families as saying that the objective behind such protests is to push for the expulsion of Syrian Ambassador Ali Abdul Karim Ali “because he has not yet defected” from the regime and to condemn Tehran's policies in Syria “where the Revolutionary Guard is taking part in repressing the protests.”
Eleven Lebanese Shiite pilgrims were kidnapped by an armed group calling itself the Northern Storm Brigade in the Aleppo town of Aazaz on May 22 as they were returning home from a pilgrimage in Iran.
One abductee was released in August in what his captors said was a “goodwill” gesture, while Ibrahim was released in September.
The kidnappers have repeatedly linked the release of the Lebanese captives to Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, a close ally of the Syrian regime, apologizing over his stances on the Syrian revolt.