Aoun Proposes Tasking Officers from ISF, Army to Keep Families Informed of Arsal Captives Case

Head of the Free Patriotic Movement MP Michel Aoun met on Wednesday with a delegation from the families of the servicemen who were kidnapped from the northeastern border town of Arsal in August.

He said after the talks: “An officer from the Internal Security Forces and another from the army should be tasked with keeping the families up-to-date with the developments linked to the case.”

The MP hoped that the ministerial crisis cell tackling the issue would take his proposal into consideration.

He declared that the families have the right to know what is happening with their loved ones.

“We discovered that we have wronged them because we know nothing of the negotiations,” Aoun said.

“We should change our attitude towards the families, who should be in on the truth,” he stressed.

Asked by reporters if the state should carry out negotiations with the gunmen to release the captives, he replied: “Any negotiation has a price.”

The policemen and soldiers were abducted by Islamic State and al-Nusra Front gunmen from Syria in the wake of clashes in Arsal.

A few of them have since been released, while four were executed and the rest remain kidnapped.

Muslim Scholars Committee member Sheikh Wissam al-Masri revealed on Wednesday the al-Qaida-affiliated al-Nusra Front pledged to release a soldier or more servicemen in its captivity if the state officially tasks him with the negotiations, a day after the group denied that he has been asked to mediate with the cabinet.

On Tuesday, a prominent al-Nusra Front leader denied the appointment of al-Masri to negotiate the captives' release.

The group said that the four-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.

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