Relatives of Arsal Hostages Block Roads, Urge Government to Prioritize their Cause

إقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية W460

The families of the Lebanese hostages blocked two vital roads in and around Beirut on Thursday to draw attention to the almost one-year case of the captives and urge the authorities to prioritize it.

The relatives of the policemen and soldiers, who were taken hostage when jihadists from al-Nusra Front and Islamic State group overran the northeastern border town of Arsal in August last year, blocked the Saifi road in downtown Beirut and the coastal highway in Naameh early Thursday by forming a human chain.

The Naameh highway was reopened after a two-hour closure but the protesters later burned tires in Saifi and kept the road closed until around 2:15 pm.

The relatives said in a statement that “it is time” for their cause to be a “top priority.”

They warned that they will hold Prime Minister Tammam Salam responsible for any damage inflicted on the captives.

The statement that was read after the reopening of the Saifi road also urged Turkey and Qatar to work on releasing their loved ones.

During the morning protest, one of the relatives, Hussein Youssef, told MTV: “Almost one year after the kidnapping of our sons, we decided to become active again.”

Youssef said that General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim told the families on Wednesday that the Lebanese authorities have completed the file on the prisoner swap with al-Nusra Front.

He “is waiting for the final sign from Qatar's envoy … We urge him to act during this holy month,” said Youssef.

Nizam Mughit, another family member, told MTV that “the government is no longer hearing” the relatives.

Mughit also told LBCI that the move of the relatives is a message to the cabinet that their cause should be put on its agenda.

Their protest coincided with a cabinet session that was held after an almost three-week suspension.

Recent reports have said that the negotiations carried out by Qatar's envoy have been almost complete.

Al-Nusra Front has been allegedly demanding the release of 16 Islamists from Roumieh prison in return for setting free the servicemen in its captivity.

Talks with the IS have, however, reached a standstill over the group's crippling demands.

The families of the hostages last took to the streets in mid-June when they blocked the Qalamoun highway in northern Lebanon.



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