Relatives of the kidnapped soldiers and policemen burn tires near the Grand Serail in Beirut, Monday, Dec. 15, 2014. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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Doubts were cast Monday over the rumored appointment of a new mediator in negotiations to secure the release of 25 Lebanese servicemen held hostage by ISIS and the Nusra Front. While the Nusra Front's official Twitter page did not mention the alleged appointment of Tripoli Sheikh Wissam Masri as a mediator, media reports quoted Masri as saying he had been commissioned by the group. Muslim Scholars Committee member Sheikh Adnan Amama claimed that the Nusra Front officially announced Masri's appointment, basing his account on a statement purportedly circulated on WhatsApp by the extremist group, he told The Daily Star. According to the professed statement, which was provided to The Daily Star by Amama, Masri contacted the Nusra Front and expressed his willingness to take the lead on negotiations. Masri could not be reached when contacted by The Daily Star.Sheikh Jasem Askar, a mediator who negotiated for the body of executed soldier Mohammad Hammieh and averted, albeit temporarily, the execution of captive policeman Ali Bazzal, told The Daily Star that he had received another statement in which the Nusra Front denied Masri's appointment.
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