BEIRUT: Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim cut short his visit to Belgium Thursday and traveled to Turkey to follow up on negotiations aimed at securing the release of Lebanese kidnapped in Syria, a source close to the issue told The Daily Star.
Ibrahim, the head of General Security, is in Ankara and will return to Lebanon late Thursday, the source added.
Ibrahim confirmed to LBCI that he was scheduled to meet with negotiators in Turkey regarding the case of nine Lebanese pilgrims abducted in Syria last year. He also told the telvision station that he was heading to Beirut Thursday night.
Signs were encouraging last week that the Lebanese pilgrims, who were kidnapped on May 22 of last year by Syrian rebels in the Aleppo district of Azaz, would be released in time for the Eid al-Adha Holiday. However, their release did not come to pass.
Last week, The Daily Star's source noted that relatives of the kidnapped should remain cautious in their optimism, saying the deal with the abductors could only be reached if no obstacles arose.
Ibrahim has been working on releasing the nine Shiite pilgrims as well as two Syrian bishops who were kidnapped earlier this year near Aleppo.
The release of the pilgrims could also see a release of two Turkish Airlines pilots who were snatched on their way to a hotel in Beirut in August. The pilots' kidnappers have demanded the release of the Lebanese in exchange for the Turkish nationals.