TRIPOLI/BEIRUT: Eight Alawite Syrians were released Saturday after weeks of being held hostage by the Ahmad tribe in the Wadi Khaled region of north Lebanon.
Gunmen from the tribe kidnapped the workers on April 1 near the border with Syria in a bid to pressure Damascus into agreeing to a swap deal for one their kin who is being held by Syrian authorities.
The release came hours after a meeting was held at Ali Ahmad's residence in the village of Hisheh, Wadi Khaled, that was attended by Brig. Gen. Amer al-Hasan, the head of Army Intelligence in north Lebanon, and members of the follow-up committee established to resolve the case.
The committee is composed of Wadi Khaled figures and notables including Ahmad’s family.
The eight Syrians were handed over to Army intelligence at the residence of Fahed Ali Ahmad, a member of the tribe, before being transferred back to their home country.
Suleiman al-Ahmad another member of the tribe, thanked security agencies for their help in securing the release of the kidnapped and described the abduction as “an unintended operation."
Suleiman al-Ahmad also urged security agencies and the government to help resolve the case of his relative, Mohammad Hasan al-Ahmad, who is being detained in Syria.
"Our son was kidnapped after they lured him across the border,” he said, adding: “He has no history of violating security in Lebanon or in Syria but only of blackmailing for money.”
One of kidnapped Syrians, Mohsen al-Ali, told reporters after his release that his captors had treated him and his companions well.
"We were dignified guests at Ahmad's family," he said, calling for the release of the Lebanese citizen.