BEIRUT: Two Lebanese farmers from the border village of Abboudieh who were kidnapped earlier this week by pro-Syrian regime forces will be released shortly, the head of the Arab Democratic Party Rifaat Eid said Saturday.
“The two farmers ... will be in their homes within an hour,” Eid said during a televised news conference, adding that his party played a role in mediation efforts to release the farmers.
The farmers will be handed over to Nasri Khoury, head of the Higher Lebanese-Syrian Council, who will in turn hand them over to Lebanese authorities, according to local media.
Mohammad Merhebi and Mahdi Hamdan were kidnapped Wednesday by pro-Syrian regime forces while they were working their land in Abboudieh, north Lebanon.
The two men were forcibly taken to Syria, in an act that prompted their families to protest at the Lebanese border crossings of Abboudieh and Arida and block the roads from Lebanon to Syria.
The National News Agency reported that the international road in Akkar, north Lebanon, was reopened to allow Eid’s car to head to the place where the Lebanese farmers were located in Syria.
Eid also referred to ongoing clashes in the northern coastal city of Tripoli and said that some gunmen in the area enjoyed political cover, which prevented the Lebanese Army carrying out arrests.
“The Lebanese Army does not have the needed political cover to bring back safety and its prestige,” Eid said.
“If we step into the unknown, the Syrian army will intervene,” he said, reiterating his call for the Syrian army to enter Tripoli to end the clashes.
Last month, Eid called for the return of the Syrian army to restore calm to Tripoli amid deadly clashes between armed opponents and supporters of Syrian President Bashar Assad in the city.
At least 11 people were killed during the clashes in Tripoli, where tension has been on the rise over the 15-month-old popular uprising in neighboring Syria.