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Lebanese, Syrian hostages released in swap

  • Lebanese Abdullah Zein, center, poses with his relatives after his release in the border village of al-Qasr, Lebanon, Wednesday, May 16, 2012. (The Daily Star/Ali Jaafar)

BEKAA, Lebanon: Lebanese and Syrian citizens caught up in a tit-for-tat kidnapping linked to the Syria crisis were released Wednesday.

“All the hostages have been freed,” former Lebanese mayor of the border village of al-Qasr Dr. Ali Zeaiter, who mediated the swap deal, told The Daily Star.

He was referring to Lebanese Khodr Jaafar, Abdullah Zein and Ahmad Medlej as well as some 32 Syrian men taken hostage by pro-Syrian Lebanese in the hope of exchanging them for the three Lebanese men.

Jaafar, Zein and Medlej were kidnapped Thursday in the border village of Zeita, some two kilometers from the Syrian border and 15 kilometers north of Hermel, by Syrian opposition members who belong to a clan which accused the three of facilitating the arrest of a rebel by Syrian intelligence agents.

Zeita is a small border town of mainly Lebanese inhabitants which lies in Syrian territory.

Zeiter said the men were released between Zeita and nearby Saqarja.

"What I did was a humanitarian act," Zeiter said proudly.

A security source had told The Daily Star that pro-Assad Lebanese men were holding 60 Syrian workers hostage Sunday.

The discrepancy regarding the number of Syrian captives indicates that the hostage-takers had apparently freed half of them earlier.

 
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