Lebanon News

Key events in the hostage crisis

Lebanese hostages appear in new video released by Nusra Front, Tuesday, May 5, 2015.

BEIRUT: Sunday marks one year since militant Islamist groups captured more than 30 Lebanese servicemen in northeast Lebanon.

Below is a timeline of major developments as the case of the hostage servicemen has unfolded over the past 12 months.

Aug. 2, 2014: As security forces battled Islamist militants affiliated with ISIS and the Nusra Front in the border town of Arsal, more than 30 servicemen were taken captive.

Aug. 4, 2014: A Committee of Muslim Scholars delegation arrived in Arsal to negotiate a cease-fire.

Aug. 5, 2014: Three policemen, Rami Jamal, Khaled Saleh and Tannious Murad, were released by militants, cease-fire established.

Aug. 7, 2014: The Lebanese Army freed seven captive soldiers in Arsal as militants retreated from the town.

Aug. 8, 2014: Militants demanded that the Lebanese government release Islamist prisoners in exchange for remaining hostages.

Aug. 17, 2014: Two policemen, Medyan Hasan and Kamal Misilmani, are freed in Arsal as a “sign of goodwill” by militants.

Aug. 22, 2014: Committee of Muslim Scholars suspended negotiating role, expressing hope that “better conditions” wound surround the file.

Aug. 28, 2014: ISIS beheaded captured Lebanese soldier Ali Al-Sayyed.

Aug. 30, 2014: Nusra Front freed four Army soldiers and a policeman.

Sept. 4, 2014: The Cabinet rejected a prisoner swap deal.

Sept. 5, 2014: ISIS and Nusra militants met with Qatari-appointed mediator Ahmad Al-Khatib.

Sept. 6, 2014: ISIS announced that it had beheaded captive soldier Abbas Medlij, reportedly after he attempted to escape.

Sept. 19, 2014: Nusra executed soldier Mohammad Hamieh.

Sept. 22, 2014: Family members, friends and supporters of hostages blocked the key Dahr al-Baidar road which connects Mount Lebanon to the Bekaa Valley.

Oct. 8, 2014: Families of the hostages moved from their sit-in in Dahr al-Baidar to Downtown Beirut, vowing not to leave until their loved ones were returned.

Nov. 1, 2014: Nusra handed Khatib a list of prisoners it wants released from Roumieh.

Dec. 5, 2014: Nusra Front killed ISF member Ali Bazzal, allegedly in response to the Army’s arrest of Saja al-Dulaimi, ex-wife of ISIS chief Abu Bakr Baghdadi, and her daughter.

Jan. 12, 2015: Nusra issued new threats against the 16 service members it holds after Lebanese authorities raided Roumieh prison’s Block B where Islamist prisoners are held.

March 30, 2015: Families of hostages blocked Saifi road in Downtown Beirut, threatening to bypass government negotiators.

June 2, 2015: General Security Chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim said the release of servicemen held by Nusra was imminent.

July 19, 2015: Nusra offered to swap three of 16 captive servicemen if Lebanon released female prisoners, including Saja Dulaimi, the ex-wife of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and terror suspect Joumanna Hmayed, who was arrested near Arsal in 2014 driving a car full of explosives. The offer came after the group allowed families of the servicemen to visit them on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr. The other hostages would be released once Syrian refugees were allowed to return to villages attacked by Hezbollah, Nusra said.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 01, 2015, on page 3.

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