Anger among Relatives of Arsal Hostages as Police Use Water Cannons to Disperse them

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  • W460
  • W460
  • W460

Police used on Friday water cannons against the relatives of the soldiers and policemen taken hostage by jihadists after the protesters and security forces pushed and shoved each other on a main road in Beirut, drawing large-scale condemnation from the families.

Police resorted to force after the families refused to open the Saifi road that they had blocked during the morning rush hour to protest the government's failure to secure the release of their sons.

Their peaceful sit-in, which lasted around one hour, caused bumper-to-bumper traffic.

The demonstrators were enraged after the clash with police and began calling for the resignation of Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq.

The security forces crossed “the red line,” they shouted.

But al-Mashnouq responded in a press conference, saying: “I am ready to step down if my resignation would help secure the release of the hostages."

“From the first moment, the government has been working on the issue in accordance to certain principles," he said.

Police Col. Joseph Musallem justified the use of force by saying there was a decision by the political authorities not to block roads.

“We tried to clear reporters from the area but things developed into pushing and shoving," he told LBCI.

The Internal Security Forces also confirmed on twitter that they were implementing the decision to open the road to thousands of Lebanese who were stranded in their vehicles.

“We dispersed protesters out of our concern to preserve the interest of citizens,” the ISF said.

The families snapped back by saying they were "surprised by the political decision that suppressed the relatives but failed to release the abductees."

“Our protest will continue until the release of our loved ones,” they said in a statement read by one of the family members.

The relatives urged the judiciary to investigate and interrogate any ISF member who “ordered the assault” on them.

"Thank you for your acts. You have lost your conscious," they told al-Mashnouq.

During the road closure, the protesters were adamant to make their voices heard.

“It seems they want us to take escalatory measures. So, this is what we'll do,” one of the protestors said about the Lebanese authorities before they were forced to disperse.

“If you execute all of them, you won't achieve a thing,” said another, addressing the militants.

“We might stay here,” a relative said as he sat in the middle of the road.

This was not the first protest held by the relatives. Last week, they burned tires and blocked roads in Beirut and northern Lebanon.

The families have also for weeks been camping out near Prime Minister Tammam Salam's office in Beirut's Riad al-Solh square, demanding the government negotiate faster.

The soldiers and police were taken hostage in August when al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State group infiltrated the northeastern town of Arsal through the porous Syrian-Lebanese border and engaged in bloody clashes with the army.

Health Minister Wael Abou Faour earlier telephoned the relatives and “urged them to open the road and give the Lebanese government some time to allow it to work.”

Abou Faour told LBCI TV that he is not in Beirut. But he will meet with them when he returns.

“Secrecy is one of the reasons for the success of the negotiations,” he stressed.

Friday's protest came a day after al-Nusra Front threatened to execute one of the captive servicemen and several days after Hizbullah secured the release of a party member who had been taken hostage by rebels in Syria's Qalamoun region near the Lebanese border.

Al-Nusra said Thursday that a captive will be expected if the Lebanese government did not start what it called “serious negotiations.”

It called on the Lebanese authorities to release Jumana Hmayyed who was arrested near Arsal in February while driving a booby-trapped car that entered Lebanon from Syria's Yabrud region.

"There are only eight hours left to release the sister Jumana Hmayyed or face the execution of the captive Ali al-Bazzal," al-Nusra warned on twitter on Friday afternoon.

The militant group's threat further angered the relatives of the servicemen who on Wednesday expressed regret at Hizbullah's ability to engage in a prisoner swap with Syrian gunmen and the failure of the Lebanese government to do so.

Hizbullah said Tuesday that one of its members, Imad Ayyad, was freed in exchange for two gunmen who were in the party's custody.

The party has been fighting alongside troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad against rebels seeking to topple him.



Comments 20
Thumb sophia_angle 28 November 2014, 09:43

how d hell they took them passing the lebanese border without the army interference ?! it is very normal that negotiation is highly complicated now the kidnappers are in a strong position.

the best way to solve this an army commandos with HA elite forces make a sudden raid to free them

Thumb ex-fpm 28 November 2014, 10:38

I recommend a regiment or two of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard just to make it more patriotic.

Thumb sophia_angle 28 November 2014, 11:28

y not if it serves don't mind an elite saudi special force if it makes u feel better :pppp

Default-user-icon Chr. Aouad (Guest) 28 November 2014, 15:14

HA "elite force" too much busy comin' back from Syria in coffins, Einstein!

Thumb geha 28 November 2014, 10:46

whatever the families of the abducted do, they are in their right.
whoever is responsible for the problems that happened today should be sacked.

Thumb -phoenix1 28 November 2014, 12:02

What a shame, this is terrible, how can the Police use water canons on a grief-striken group of families? Who are the terrorists, the families of the abducted or the ISIL/Nusra terror groups? Since the state is castrated over this issue, if it cannot show some compassion, then for God's sake, release those prisoners that are being demanded by the terrorists and hand them over to the families of the kidnapped soldiers, One for 30. From there let the state take a rest from the matter and let the families do as they please with these prisoners. Long since only a tit for tat approach will work with terrorists, then let's see what they'll do. Shameful act by the police, some of the kidnapped men in uniform are policemen for God's sake.

Thumb cash.puppet 28 November 2014, 14:19

Like I posted in another similar article which you then chose to ridicule me for and pointed out that I am M8:

"Dont count on this so called "state" to do anything for any citizen. Its a couple of mafias and their head honchos are lining their pockets in the parliament and ministries while the country burns! Secularism or nothing"

I dont understand what my personal views have to do with what I said in this particular situation. It still holds true.

Missing peace 28 November 2014, 14:27

so let us all back hezbollah instead of the state ma hek?

Thumb cash.puppet 28 November 2014, 14:29

What state ya habibi? Give me a secular state and not one run by sectarian mafias then I will support it. Until then, you can enjoy your neocon puppets, no thanks.

Thumb -phoenix1 28 November 2014, 16:00

FD, it doesn't matter at all,...what you wrote, nothing personal after all. Salam. :)

Thumb Mystic 28 November 2014, 16:20

Phoenix, has the same interests as the United States. He will never accept anything from the Resistance. Even if it meant the release of these soldiers.

Thumb -phoenix1 28 November 2014, 18:42

Ya Mystic rou2 yaaa habibi, ma badda hal 2ad, walaw?

Missing ysurais 28 November 2014, 12:26

Mr Interior what about the occupier of Z EDL Building?? till when?
The state must use a single standard i guess!

Default-user-icon mazen (Guest) 28 November 2014, 13:09

it is about time!!! They should stop blocking roads... they are behaving like thugs...shame on them.. blocking roads leads no where..

Default-user-icon + oua nabka + (Guest) 28 November 2014, 13:33

ma fi daouleh illa 3ala lim3atar ye3ni ma fi daouleh fi maazra3a

Default-user-icon t (Guest) 28 November 2014, 13:37


Default-user-icon Chr. Aouad (Guest) 28 November 2014, 15:12

Oct. 13 General's "christian" militia would do better with those terrorist soldiers parents

Default-user-icon mahdi firuz berhouz (Guest) 28 November 2014, 16:30

hahaha! you keep exposing them one by one. They retreat, they are confused, they are in disarray. You and you alone are the undisputed heavy posting champion of the world. Somesing anazar flamethrower!

Missing hajjradwan 28 November 2014, 16:34

This is a despicable act that cannot be excused.

Default-user-icon majd (Guest) 28 November 2014, 17:15

silence? what silence princess. i tell what you do, go to librairie antoine ask for an english to dahieh dictionary, look up the word "silence".