BEIRUT: Prime Minister Tammam Salam congratulated the Lebanese military Sunday on Army Day, which falls on Aug. 1, stressing that the government was doing all it could for the return of soldiers still being held captive by ISIS.
“We send the army ... our most sincere regards, in appreciation for their sacrifices in defending Lebanon, preserving its security and its stability, and protecting its internal unity,” Salam said in a statement. He also paid his respects to “the martyrs who died in their confrontation against the Israeli enemy and the terrorist organizations.”
He affirmed that the state was not sparing any effort to end the hostage tragedy, nearing its third year, saying it will succeed in freeing the soldiers as it did previously.
Nine soldiers, among the more than thirty soldiers and policemen kidnapped in August 2014 following five days of clashes with the army in the northeastern border town of Arsal, are still being held captive by the militant group.
Sixteen servicemen were released on Dec. 1 last year by the Fatah al-Sham Front, formerly known as the Nusra Front, in a prisoner swap with the Lebanese government. More servicemen were released weeks after being kidnapped, while four were executed.
“We hoped to celebrate Army Day with a president ... we use this occasion to renew our call to MPs to carry out their constitutional responsibilities and elect a president as soon as possible,” Salam added.
Lebanon has been without a head of state since the tenure of Michel Sleiman in May 2014.