Relatives of Army Captives Block Roads as Salam Reveals Newly Formed Cell to 'End Tragedy'إقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
The angered families of the captives, who were taken hostage by Islamist gunmen in the northeastern border town of Arsal, blocked several roads on Saturday to protest the ongoing abduction of their relatives.
But Prime Minister Tammam Salam revealed late on Saturday evening that a ministerial cell has been formed and to work "behind the scenes on following up on the abducted troops' case."
The cell is headed by the Premier and formed of the ministers of interior, justice, defense and foreign affairs.
"The cell is in contact with all those who can help in this case, whether in Lebanon or abroad, to find a solution for this tragedy," Salam said during a meeting with a delegation from the northern region of Akkar.
"The situation is dangerous and we are in a race against time to release our sons," he said.
Meanwhile on ground, Syrian warplanes also flew over the Arsal plains on Saturday afternoon and targeted gunmen positions with shells along the eastern border.
Several protesters from the Akkar towns of Fneidiq, Tekrit and Mash-ha erected a tent in the middle of al-Abdeh highway, vowing no retreat until the release of the kidnapped soldiers and policemen.
“We will not back down before (the state) finds a swift solution to this humanitarian matter,” demonstrators said.
Others blocked the Tripoli highway with their vehicles.
The international highway linking Akkar with the northern city of Tripoli was briefly blocked as protesters appealed to the government, lawmakers and the army command to ensure the safe release of their children.
The relatives of Arsal captives in Talia blocked the Baalbek international highway as others briefly blocked the al-Labweh-Arsal road.
And in the afternoon, that state-run National News Agency reported that several residents of northern Qalamun town blocked the international highway between Tripoli and Beirut to protest the abduction of soldier Ibrahim Mughaid, calling on the state “to do everything possible to release him.”
The road blocking led to a huge traffic congestion in the area, and vehicles were asked to take the seaside road.
The endeavors of the enraged protesters 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.
Several soldiers and policemen were taken captive by Islamist gunmen who overran the Bekaa border town of Arsal on August 2.
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.
H.K. / S.D.B.