BEIRUT: Relatives of the nine Lebanese pilgrims held hostage in Syria are upbeat about an imminent release of their loved ones.
“We were informed by Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim that the hostages would soon be freed,” Saeed Saleh, the son of one of the hostages, told The Daily Star Tuesday.
“Let us wait and see what happens next but we are feeling very hopeful,” said Saleh.
Eleven Lebanese hostages were kidnapped in May last year while returning overland from a pilgrimage in Iran. Two have been released so far.
Saleh said they were informed that the hostages were safe and that they had been moved to a secure location at the Syrian-Turkish border. The transfer was made after battles between the Free Syrian Army and Islamists broke out in the Aleppo border town of Azaz where the hostages were previously reported to be held.
Saleh said that Ibrahim, who heads Lebanon's General Security and has been working on resolving the case, returned from a recent trip to Qatar with promising signs that the hostages will be freed.
“After his return, Maj. Gen. Ibrahim held talks with President Michel Sleiman, Speaker Nabih Berri, and caretaker Prime Minister Najib MiKati and informed them of the outcome of his Qatari visit,” he said.
For her part, spokesperson for the relatives, Hayat Awali, told the Voice of Lebanon radio station Tuesday that the hostages will be all released at once and not in different phases.