Mashnouq Warns: Syrian Refugees at Risk if Arsal Captives Harmedإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq reiterated warnings on Saturday that around 1.1 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon will be at risk if any security personnel taken hostage on the outskirts of the northeastern border town of Arsal was harmed.
The Islamist abductors “should be aware that they are putting the 1.1 million Syrian refugees currently in Lebanon at risk due to their actions and threats,” Mashnouq said in comments published in An Nahar newspaper.
“No one should presume that we will remain spectators if any Lebanese soldier or national was killed or slaughtered,” the minister cautioned.
Mashnouq's warnings come a day after a new videotape emerged for several kidnapped soldiers and policemen, calling on their parents to block roads and pressure the cabinet to release them in exchange for Islamist inmates held in Roumieh.
Two of the troops also remarked that their execution will take place in three days if the demands of their abductors were not met.
Jihadists from the the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and the Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front kidnapped several soldiers and policemen following fierce clashes that erupted on August 2 in Arsal.
Mashnouq also expressed concern that the Bekaa town remains at risk.
“We will exert efforts to ensure the safe release of the kidnapped security personnel,” the Mustaqbal official said, pointing out that “several sides” are involved in the matter.
“Arsal is a permanent clash area that needs important political decision regarding the Syrian refugees and on means to deal with the security situation.”
Arsal lies 12 kilometers from the border with Syria and its inhabitants are overwhelmingly sympathetic to the Sunni-dominated uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime and is widely suspected of smuggling weapons and fighters across the border.
However, the residents of the Bekaa town were angered after jihadists from Syria attacked their town earlier in August.