Turkey Warns Citizens in Lebanon as Committee on Abducted Says No Political Prisoners in Countryإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
The Turkish Embassy in Lebanon urged on Monday its citizens to be careful and take caution, after the families of the abducted pilgrims in Aazaz threatened to target Turkey's interests in the country.
"We urge the Turkish citizens to refrain from traveling to the country,” the embassy said in a statement to the state-run Anadolu Agency.
The parents of the kidnapped pilgrims in Aazaz had stated in a sit-in they held in front of Turkey's Embassy in Beirut on Sunday that they will “abduct Turkish citizens and target the country's interests in Lebanon as of January 2013”.
"We call on Turkish authorities to intervene and pressure Syria's authorities to release our sons,” the families said, explaining that Turkey can play an important role in this matter considering its good relations with the Syrian opposition.
However, Adham Zgheib, the son of one of the abducted pilgrims, denied that they will resort to kidnapping Turkish nationals.
"Turkish citizens cannot be blamed as they are not guilty in what happened to our pilgrims,” he told the Anadolu Agency.
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 Awad Ibrahim was released in September.
Meanwhile, the Ministerial Committee on Abducted Lebanese said on Monday: “We reject any threatening to Turkish interests in the country as only Turkey can play a positive role in this matter”.
“The Turkish role is more important now than ever and Turkey should deal with Lebanese authorities strictly,” Minister of Labor Salim Jreissati said, adding that attacking any of the country's interests in Lebanon is a “red line”.
Interior Minister Marwan Charbel revealed that Turkey did not put any conditions in return for its efforts to release the abducted.
"If the kidnappers have any demands such as the list of prisoners in Roumieh, we ask them to inform us,” he said.
Charbel remarked: “We do not have any prisoners of conscience in our jails and those who we arrested are not detained for their views and ideologies”.
Al-Mustaqbal bloc MP Oqab Saqr had announced that the kidnapped are demanding the release of Syrian and Jordanian prisoners of conscience jailed in Roumieh prison as a condition to release the pilgrims.
Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour expressed: “The Turks are optimistic and are saying that it is only a matter of time”.