Report: Crisis Cell Gives Green Light to Nusra Front Swap Deal to Free Captive Servicemen

The Lebanese authorities officially informed the Qatari-appointed mediator, Syrian Ahmed al-Khatib, that it had agreed on the jihadists' demand to exchange each captive with five Islamist inmates and 50 female prisoners.

According to al-Mustaqbal newspaper published on Tuesday, the decision came in light of last week's crisis cell meeting.

General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim will reportedly head to Damascus this week to discuss with the Syrian authorities readiness to cooperate in the case.

The Syrian government has reportedly set three conditions to engage in a prisoners swap with jihadists, demanding the Lebanese state to “officially appeal Damascus for help.”

The Syrian government also demanded the Lebanese army not to hand over to the Free Syrian Army the head of its command council, Colonel Abdullah Rifai, and to revive cooperation with the Syrian military in order to control the border and combat terrorism.

The Nusra said that the three-month hostage crisis would end if 10 inmates held at Lebanese prisons would be freed for each hostage or seven Lebanese inmates and 30 female prisoners held in Syria would be released for each abducted soldier and policeman or if five Lebanese and 50 women inmates would be freed.

The group added that the swap with the prisoners held at Syrian prisons should take place in Turkey or Qatar, while the exchange with the Lebanese authorities should take place on the outskirts of the northeastern border town of Arsal.

The cabinet had previously totally rejected any swap deal with the jihadists.

Concerning threats by jihadists to start killing the captives if the state failed to suspend sentences issued on Friday against Islamist Roumieh prison inmates, ministerial sources told al-Mustaqbal that the threats are “not serious.”

The threats prompted the relatives of abducted soldiers and policemen to briefly block several roads in the capital Beirut and the northern area of Qalmoun on Monday to demand the judiciary to lift sanctions against the Islamist inmates.

Prime Minister Tammam Salam is expected to head a meeting for the crisis cell on Wednesday to discuss the developments in the case.



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