BEIRUT: Families of the nine Lebanese hostages held in Syria briefly protested at the Turkish Embassy in Lebanon Tuesday, and threatened to increase pressure on Turks to gain the release of their loved ones.
“We will harass all Turks in Lebanon. They can leave the country if they don't like our move,” a spokeswoman for the relatives Hayat Awali said.
She said relatives will continue such protests against Turkish groups in Lebanon until the return of the kidnapped men from Syria.
The families claim Turkey has a role in preventing the release of the kidnapped Lebanese because of the country’s ties with rebel groups in Syria.
Around fifty of the relatives, mainly women and children, gathered outside the embassy’s headquarters in Rabieh and chanted against Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, calling for the release of their family members who have been held for over a year.
Protesters, who were around 200 meters away from the embassy’s offices, said they brought tires to burn outside the embassy and that they are waiting for more relatives to join the protest.
“We will cut the road to every Turkish tourist in Lebanon,” Awali said. “We will prevent Turkish citizens from entering Lebanon every time a Turkish plane touches down in Beirut.”
Security sources told The Daily Star that the relatives received phone calls from security officials urging them to end their protest and leave.
Police and the Lebanese Army deployed along the road leading to the Turkish Embassy after they received notification that the relatives intended to stage a sit-in outside the premises.
The relatives then tried to protest outside the Turkish Cultural Center and Turkish Airlines headquarters in Downtown Beirut but security forces urged them to leave.
Eleven Shiite Lebanese were abducted in the region of Aleppo, north Syria, in May last year. Two of them were released last summer.
The families have repeatedly staged protests outside Turkish organizations in Lebanon.