A man burns tires to block the road between Beirut and the Bekaa Valley, in Dahr al-Baidar during a protest of the families of the kidnapped soldiers, Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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Lebanon's interior minister said Wednesday for the first time that the government was not opposed to a prisoner swap with the ISIS and the Nusra Front, as the families of captive soldiers brought the country to a standstill by blocking a major highway between Beirut and the Bekaa Valley.More than 30 soldiers and policemen were captured by Nusra and ISIS militants during an armed attack on the northeastern border town of Arsal last month.To date, the militants have beheaded two soldiers and shot another.The militants have claimed in the past that Hezbollah is obstructing the negotiations for the release of the prisoners.The protesters burned tires and erected tents in Dahr al-Baidar and before the village of Aley on the Beirut-Damascus highway.They also partially blocked the Tarshish-Zahle road and vowed to completely block it Thursday if the government did not take action to free the captives. Machnouk condemned the killing of abducted Army soldier Mohammad Hamieh who was executed by Nusra militants last week and slammed last week's roadside bombing that killed two Army soldiers in Arsal, saying the incidents are acts of terror that serve to disrupt negotiations.
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