Syria Promises Ibrahim to Help in Abducted Pilgrims Case

General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim on Sunday returned to Beirut from Damascus after he was promised by Syrian authorities that they will help resolve the case of the abducted Lebanese pilgrims, Lebanon's National News Agency reported.

Ibrahim “met with a number of Syrian officials and discussed with them the case of the Aazaz abductees, handing them a list containing the names of Syrian women prisoners that he had received from Turkish authorities,” NNA said.

“The Syrian leadership told Ibrahim that it agrees to help and follow up on this case in order to reach a happy ending,” the agency added.

Ibrahim thanked the Syrian officials for their positive response and he will make the necessary contacts with the relevant parties, NNA said.

Later on Sunday, al-Manar television quoted Ibrahim as saying that Syrian authorities "showed willingness to cooperate in anything that can facilitate the release of the Lebanese abductees."

"He thanked them for the utmost positivity and said the case is still on the right track," al-Manar said, noting that further meetings will be held with the Syrian side.

On Friday, Ibrahim confirmed that “positive steps have been made over the past hours” in the case, noting that the issue is on “the right track.”

On Monday, caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel received from the kidnappers the names of 371 Syrian women detainees held in regime prisons as part of negotiations over a swap deal.

"I have received from Ibrahim the list of the 371 Syrian women detainees and I have examined the names in it,” Charbel said in a statement.

He noted: "Ibrahim will start his contacts with the Syrian side over swapping the women detainees for the Lebanese hostages in Aazaz.”

The men, who have been held hostage in Syria since May last year, appeared in a videotape over the weekend as their families warned that they "do not want to see any Turk" in Lebanon after May 22 should Turkey fail to secure the release of their loved ones.

They said the video dated to April 30.

Earlier this week, the pan-Arab television al-Mayadeen reported that the abductors have demanded the release of 282 women detainees from Syrian prisons.

Eleven Lebanese pilgrims were kidnapped by armed rebels in Syria's Aleppo region as they were making their way back home by land from a pilgrimage to Iran on May 22.

Two of them have since been released, while the rest are still reportedly being held in the town of Aazaz.

The families of the pilgrims have held Turkey and Qatar responsible for their ordeal, while accusing the Lebanese government of not exerting enough efforts to secure their release.

They have held daily sit-ins to press for their demands to set the nine men free.

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