Aazaz Pilgrims Doing 'Well' amid Reports of Abu Ibrahim's Deathإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
The nine Lebanese pilgrims held in Syria's Aazaz region are doing well amid conflicting reports that one of their captors, Abu Ibrahim, had been killed, reported the daily al-Mustaqbal on Saturday.
Syrian opposition member Louay al-Meqdad told Future television: “Up until this moment, the pilgrims are doing well.”
Interior Minister Marwan Charbel had revealed on Friday that he had received information from Turkey that Abu Ibrahim had been killed.
Meqdad said of the claim: “We have not received word of his death.”
He remarked that several reports over his death had been made over the past few months, asking: “What difference does it make to the families of the pilgrims if he is dead?”
He revealed however that Abu Ibrahim was wounded at one point in clashes with the Free Syrian Army, not Syrian regime forces.
He explained that the FSA “was fed up" with Abu Ibrahim's policy of kidnapping, which prompted it to attack his brigade.
“His wound is not fatal. This matter does not concern me as the pilgrims' safety is the most important issue,” stressed al-Meqdad.
Charbel meanwhile told the daily An Nahar Saturday that efforts are ongoing to ensure the release of the pilgrims.
“These efforts are taking place away from the media spotlight through negotiations with all concerned sides,” he said.
Eleven Lebanese pilgrims were kidnapped in Syria's Aleppo province in May 2012 as they were making their way back to Lebanon by land from pilgrimage in Iran.
Two of them have since been released, while the rest remain held in Aazaz.
The families of the pilgrims had frequently held Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar responsible for their ongoing abduction, while saying that the government had not exerted enough efforts to ensure their release.
Prime Minister Najib Miqati and Charbel had recently traveled to Turkey in order to discuss the abduction with Turkish officials and media reports recently said that Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan had joined efforts to ensure the pilgrims' release.