BEIRUT: The Nusra Front insists that all of the soldiers being held by ISIS are still alive, according to one of the hostages released Saturday night, casting a spark of doubt over the video that allegedly shows the beheading of Ali Sayyed.
Speaking to OTV, Ibrahim Shaaban, one of five hostages freed by the Nusra Front late Saturday night, said that he was told that “Ali Sayyed is still alive.”
The second-hand report was enough for Sayyed’s hometown of Fnaydeq to fire gunshots in celebration, despite the tenuous nature of the information.
Nusra and ISIS, which are fighting each other elsewhere in Syria, have at least 24 Lebanese policemen and soldiers who were taken captive after gun battles with the Army at the beginning of August. Sources involved in negotiations to free the men have told The Daily Star that coordination between the two groups is limited.
Sayyed’s father is a mukhtar of Fnaydeq and three of his brothers are currently enlisted in the Lebanese Army, a security source said.
Commenting on pictures of the alleged beheading of Sayyed, Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi Sunday confirmed that it was Sayyed in the picture.
Kahwagi did not confirm the death of Sayyed but insisted the Army was keeping “its options open. “
The images of what appears to be the beheading of the Army soldier circulated on social media Thursday evening.
“Now you know who are the lions of ISIS,” Abou Misaab Hafid al-Baghdadi tweeted, linking a gruesome picture showing Sayyed’s alleged beheading.
With the release of the five hostages late Saturday night, Nusra Front and ISIS are still holding at least 24 soldiers and policemen taken captive during battles with the Lebanese Army at the beginning of August in Arsal.