BEIRUT: Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdel-Karim Ali Friday dismissed reports that Lebanese prisoners who were kidnapped during the Civil War were still being held in Syria, suggesting that questions about the allegations would only be settled by “fortune tellers.”
Asked to comment on reports that families and relatives of the alleged Lebanese prisoners had proof that their loved ones were in Syrian jails, Ali said: “Probably, fortune tellers can have the answer.”
He also scoffed at leaked documents claiming that hundreds of Lebanese who were held in Syrian prisons had been executed.
“This talk is ridiculous. It is untrue and baseless in the first place,” he said.
Ali spoke to reporters after meeting Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil to discuss the plight of Syrian refugees, a day after the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees registered the millionth refugee in Lebanon.
An estimated 600 Lebanese were kidnapped during the 1975-90 Civil War and are believed to be held in Syrian prisons. Syria’s army was present in Lebanon from 1976 to 2005.
The families of the prisoners have demonstrated and staged sit-ins in Downtown Beirut in the past, demanding that the government work with the Syrian authorities to determine the fate of their loved ones.
A nongovernmental organization, Support of Lebanese in Detention and Exile, has been formed to follow up the case of Lebanese detainees in Syria.
The Syrian regime has long denied holding Lebanese prisoners, after releasing a number of detainees in the past.
Ali said Bassil raised with him the issue of Lebanese detainees in Syria.
“This question has been previously repeated and the Syrian government responded that Syria had cooperated with the Lebanese government and Lebanese national leaders, including General Michel Aoun and all the delegations that visited Syria,” Ali said.
“ Syria has been clear ... and does not keep secrets on this issue.”
He claimed that some Lebanese who went missing during the Civil War had been killed by groups in Lebanon, though he did not identify them.