Relatives of the kidnapped servicemen attach Lebanese flags near a tent camp in Beirut, as they mark a year since their loved ones were taken hostage, Friday, July 31, 2015. (The Daily Star/Grace Kassab)
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Mary Khoury sits indignantly arranging printouts of the Lebanese flag under the scorching July sun – a banner for her brother George, who for nearly a year now has been a hostage of the Nusra Front.It is here, steps away from the headquarters of the prime minister, that for 10 months the families of the hostages being held by ISIS and Nusra Front on Lebanon's porous northeast border have erected a protest site in hopes of winning the freedom of their sons, brothers and husbands. But in the war of attrition between Nusra and the Lebanese Army, the hostages have become a crucial card in the hands of militants, and the ongoing battles in Qalamoun have shattered any chance of ending the ordeal anytime soon. Changing dynamics on the ground in Qalamoun, where Hezbollah and the Syrian army launched an offensive in May against the Army of Conquest led by Nusra, have irrevocably altered the stakes of the hostage crisis.
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