Lebanese Pilgrims Appear in Video, Families Say 'We Don't Want to See Any Turk after May 22'

إقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
  • W460
  • W460
  • W460
  • W460
  • W460
  • W460

Lebanese pilgrims, who have been held hostage in Syria since May last year, appeared on a videotape broadcast by two television stations on Saturday and Sunday, 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.

The men were seen talking in the footage but the accompanying audio was inaudible when the video was broadcast by al-Jazeera satellite TV station on Saturday.

But on Sunday LBCI aired the video in which the nine kidnapped men said they were doing well and sent regards to their families.

They said the video dated to April 30.

The pilgrims backed a demand by their kidnappers to set free Syrian women held by authorities in Syria in return for their own release, al-Jazeera said.

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

The kidnappers have reportedly submitted a list of the names of the detainees to a high-ranking diplomatic figure and a Turkish official handed the list to Lebanon's General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim.

On Sunday afternoon, the relatives of the abductees staged a sit-in outside the headquarters of the Turkish UNIFIL contingent in southern Lebanon to press for the release of their loved ones.

Some of the relatives said the video published by Turkey's Anatolia news agency did not reassure them, noting that the hostages appeared to be in bad shape and that the video does not confirm that they are in good health.

The families warned that they will step up their protests against Turkish interests despite the broadcasting of the video.

“We don't want to see a single Turk outside the headquarters of the Turkish contingent after May 22,” the families threatened.

They carried pictures of the nine hostages and banners saying the Turkish government is responsible for their safety and promising to escalate protests until their relatives are released.

“They were on a pilgrimage to the holy sites (in Iran), not on any other mission like the kidnappers are claiming,” said one of the protesters.

Protesters also called on Colonel Hasan Erturk, the commander of the Turkish contingent, to convey their demands to his government instead of breaking his promise “like he did after the previous sit-in six months ago.”

During the sit-in, a number of the abductees' relatives advanced towards the headquarters' gate and wrote slogans on the surrounding walls.

Among the slogans were “You are here to protect peace, but your mission turned into protecting terrorism” and “O Ottomans, your presence provokes us.”

“There are no red lines in our protests,” Hayat Awali, representative of the Imam Sadr Tours, warned.

Meanwhile, a number of protesters started knocking on the gate of the Turkish base, demanding that they be allowed to meet Colonel Erturk, who only let five of them enter the base to meet him.

Lebanese security forces accompanying the sit-in dispersed the other protesters who approached the headquarters and kept them away from its gate, the National News Agency reported.

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.

Comments 2
Thumb jcamerican 05 May 2013, 08:41

These pilgrims are of no value to Bashar or HA. This is why no deal with the regime. I guess women are more dangerous to Bashar.

Thumb ghada12 05 May 2013, 09:30

tomorrow they will ask that they ship them chocolate from bulgaria!!! these people are messing with HA, they have no intention of releasing them