BEIRUT: The negotiator representing ISIS in the talks to release Lebanese troops has taken over the helm of the Fajr al-Islam Brigade from Imad Jomaa, who the Army detained earlier this month, a Free Syria Army commander told The Daily Star.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the source said Abu Talal had mobilized fighters to kidnap soldiers following Jomaa's arrest on Aug. 2 in the northeastern border town of Arsal.
LBCI also said Abu Talal took over the Fajr al-Islam Brigade’s leadership.
The Army’s arrest of Jomaa, who had recently switched allegiance from the Nusra Front to ISIS, triggered five days of clashes between Lebanese soldiers and Islamists from Syria. Twenty-nine soldiers and members of the Internal Security Forces went missing after the fighting and are believed to be held by the Nusra Front and ISIS.
The Committee of Muslim Scholars is mediating the negotiations for the release of the soldiers and has delivered the demands of the militants to the Lebanese government.
Abu Talal, a Syrian, is originally from the Syrian village of Qusair. He moved to the northern city of Tripoli following the outbreak of the uprising in Syria in 2011, the source said.
After moving back to Qusair, Abu Talal joined ISIS with Jomaa's brigade. He fought in the Syrian town of Yabroud before fleeing to the outskirts of Arsal in March.