Lebanon News

Militants issue their demands over captive soldiers

Lebanese soldiers advance towards Arsal, in the eastern Bekaa Valley as part of reinforcements August 5, 2014. (REUTERS/Hassan Abdallah)

BEIRUT: The government Monday received a list of demands from the militants who have held members of the Army and Internal Security Forces captive since the eruption of Arsal clashes.

“The government has officially received a list of demands from the captors of the military [and security] personnel, as well as a video recording of them,” Sheikh Adnan Amama, a member of the Muslim Scholars Committee told The Daily Star.

“Government officials have requested that all negotiation demands be kept from the media,” said Amama, after the meeting with the government delegation.

Amama insisted that officials did not want to reveal concessions being made to militants in return for the abducted ISF and Army members.

Amama reiterated previous demands articulated by the militants, such improving the humanitarian situation for refugees in Arsal.

The delivery of aid and easing security measures in and around refugee camps were among the requests, said the member of the Committee of Muslim Scholars.

Amama also said that the militants had demanded that security forces stop treating refugees as though they were all militants.

Eleven members of the Army were being held captive by ISIS said Amama, adding that one corpse was also being held by the militants.

According to Amama, the Nusra Front had seventeen captives from the ISF and three captives from the Army, but chose to release two of the seventeen ISF members Sunday.

“They did not want to release two Army members because then they would only have had one Army soldier left throughout the negotiations,” he said.

“The coming days will witness the release of more security members,” Amama added.

The Committee of Muslim Scholars mediated the cease-fire that ended five days of clashes in Arsal earlier this month and was overseeing talks to release the captured soldiers and officers.

At least 38 members of Lebanon's security forces were taken captive by militants who overran Arsal. Several have been released since the beginning of negotiations.

Arsal resident, Sheikh Mustafa Hujeiri, known by his nom de guerre Abu Taqiyeh, confirmed Sunday that all the soldiers and policemen were alive.

Hujeiri said that the captives from the Army and the ISF were distributed amongst militant groups from the Nusra Front as well as Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria.

Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas said Monday that ongoing negotiations over the release of kidnapped Army and ISF members is “very sensitive.”

Derbas said that the Lebanese government and the UN were continuing the treatment of wounded Syrian refugees in Arsal - a request issued by the militants as a condition for the release of abducted security members.

The two members of the ISF were freed Sunday as a sign of “goodwill” from the militants, as the Army arrested 12 Syrians who were allegedly involved in the battles.

The released policemen, Medyan Hasan and Kamal Misilmani, were received by the Army Intelligence in the Bekaa Valley, which in turn transferred them to the police station in Arsal.





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