Lebanon News

Lebanon Army frees 4 Syrian hostages, Turk missing

Maher Meqdad, a member of the Meqdad family that claims to have kidnapped Syrian rebels in Lebanon, speaks to reporters on Wednesday, August 15, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)

BEIRUT: The Lebanese Army freed Tuesday four Syrians kidnapped by the Meqdad clan last month, but the fate of the Turkish businessman abducted by the same clan remains unknown.

In a statement, the Army said it “freed four kidnapped Syrians after raiding a location in Hay al-Sellum following surveillance and follow-ups.”

The Army unit and Directorate of Intelligence arrested two people “without any resistance” in the same area. The two are suspected of involvement in the kidnappings.

Soldiers also raided the neighborhood of Haret Hreik and detained several people suspected of involvement in the kidnappings. The detainees are being interrogated.

The Meqdad clan spokesperson, Maher, said that the Army raided four neighborhoods in total that are home to members of the clan's so-called "military wing."

"The Syrians were freed but I was told that [Aydin Tufan] Tekin was shot either in the chest or shoulder during the raid. We do not know who fired the shots but I'm sure it is not the Army," Maher told The Daily Star.

According to Maher, several members of the clan believe that kinsman Hassan has already been killed.

As a result, "Some [Meqdad] family members have instructed the men holding Tekin that if the Army comes to free him, they should be given a corpse," he added.

On Aug. 15, the Meqdads said they kidnapped over 20 Syrians and Turkish businessman Tekin in retaliation for the abduction of their relative, Hassan Meqdad, in Syria by the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

The clan released all but four Syrians and Tekin late last month.

Meanwhile, reports quoted the little-known "Al-Mukhtar al-Thaqafi Brigades" as saying they had freed all their abductees: the Syrians and Turkish truck driver Abdulbasit Arslan, 56. The Army could not confirm the report.

The armed group kidnapped 10 Syrians along with Arslan early last month, demanding the release of the 11 Lebanese pilgrims snatched on May 22 in Syria shortly after crossing the border from Turkey.

In an interview with MTV station, the freed Syrians denied any affiliation with the FSA and said that they were victims of physical torture.

The freed Syrians also said that the “Meqdad clan forced them to claim membership in the Free Syrian Army.”

“They accused me of being a captain in the FSA, although I had nothing to do with them,” said Mohammed Abdel-Latif Musa, one of the newly released Syrians.

Maher Hassan Rabih, another former captive, said he worked as a concierge, also denying any affiliation with the Syrian rebels.

“They said you have to say that [you are an FSA member] or else we will shoot you,” Rabih told the TV station.

Separately, Ibrahim Yehya al-Ahmad said he was kidnapped in Mreijeh during Eid al-Fitr, adding that he “was subjected to severe physical torture.”





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