BEIRUT: In a defiant response to the ISIS execution of two Lebanese soldiers, Prime Minister Tammam Salam said Sunday Lebanon was not in a weak position and has “several options” to secure the release of its troops and policemen held hostage by ISIS and Nusra Front militants.
Speaking in a televised speech to the Lebanese Sunday night, Salam stressed that national unity was crucial to defeat terrorist groups threatening the country’s security and stability and prevent sectarian strife for which the “criminal killers” are working.
Referring to ISIS militants who have slaughtered two soldiers out of the 11 they are holding hostage, Salam said: “They are negotiating with us with blood because they are barbarian. They have no religion and they understand only the language of slaughter because they believe that it will help them attain their objectives.”
“Blood is precious but we will not be intimidated. We will not lose our way or surrender to the feelings of revenge,” he said. “Our determination will not be weakened. We will uphold our cohesion, patience, wisdom and our insistence on bringing back our sons by all means.”
In what appeared to be a strong message to the soldiers’ captors, Salam said: “We are not in a weak position. We have several options. There are various elements of strength in our hands.” He did not elaborate.
The government last week rejected the militants’ demands to swap the 23 hostages with Islamist detainees held in Roumieh prison.
Salam’s speech came a day after ISIS militants slaughtered Abbas Medlej, one of the captured Lebanese soldiers. Earlier this week, Lebanon laid First Sgt. Ali al-Sayyed to rest, who was beheaded by ISIS over a week ago.
Salam said the battle against terrorism was long, but assured the Lebanese that terrorist groups would be defeated.
“Lebanon will not be defeated. Those terrorists will definitely be defeated,” he said.