BEIRUT

Lebanon News

Militants will free captives if Hezbollah pulls out of Syria

Lebanese soldiers on armored vehicles drive toward Arsal, Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Islamist militants holding members of the Lebanese Army and police said they were willing to release all captured personnel and withdraw their demands if Hezbollah pulls its fighters out of Syria, the Committee of Muslim Scholars told LBCI Wednesday.

Militants from both the Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria are still holding 29 Army soldiers and Internal Security Forces members captive.

Six policemen have already been released in “a goodwill gesture” to encourage further negotiations after the end of Arsal clashes.

The militants had presented a list of demands to the government Monday, the contents of which the group was not permitted to disclose. They had previously conditioned their withdrawal from Arsal on the protection of Syrian refugees in Arsal, with the mediation of the Committee of Muslim Scholars, which successfully brokered a truce that ended the five-day clashes in the Lebanese border town.

The committee is now mediating between the militants and the Lebanese government in order to free the remaining security personnel and soldiers.

Earlier this year, Syrian troops backed by Hezbollah drove rebels out of the Syrian region of Qalamoun. Hezbollah is now trying to tighten its noose on Nusra Front fighters who fled to the border with Lebanon during the offensive.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 21, 2014, on page 3.

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