TRIPOLI, Lebanon: The relatives of Lebanese fighters who were recently killed in an ambush in Syria held a protest Sunday and briefly blocked the northern Lebanese border crossing of Arida.
Traffic was at a standstill in the early hours of the morning as demonstrators used buses to block the border crossing to Syria.
The relatives called for the release of Hasan Srour, who they say Syrian authorities are holding onto. Srour, they allege, had been in Syria trying to convince his brother Hussein, who was killed in an ambush, to return to Lebanon.
In November, over a dozen Salafist fighters from north Lebanon were reportedly killed in Syria’s Tal Kalakh. Syria has so far handed over the bodies of nine of the Lebanese fighters.
On Sunday, the relatives, who have held several protests in recent days, also called for the expulsion of Syria’s Ambassador to Lebanon, Ali Abdel-Karim Ali.
“We demand the expulsion of the Syrian ambassador to Lebanon,” said Sheikh Mohammad Ibrahim, a spokesperson for the families.
“No authority will protect you and you will soon stand behind bars,” warned Ibrahim, addressing Ali.
As well as calling for the release of Srour, the relatives also insist that DNA testing be conducted on the body of another fighter they say remains in Syria. The body, they claim, belongs to a fighter named Mohammad Rifai.
The mother of Hasan Srour urged political leaders Saturday to exert efforts to secure the release of her son and ensure he returned home.
“I particularly ask General Security chief [Maj. Gen.] Abbas Ibrahim to help in the case as he has helped in retrieving the body of my other son from Syria before,” Amina Srour told the National News Agency Saturday.
She later told LBCI that Hasan was never involved in any political or religious movement and had been in Syria to convince his brother to return home. Srour said that only her deceased son, Hussein, was a member of the fighters.
The NNA reported that the family of Rifai also urged Ibrahim to follow up on the case of their loved one.
The family pinned their hopes on the efforts by the Lebanese state to resolve the matter, it added.
After the third stage of repatriating the bodies was over, the general security said that it would continue to follow up on the case.
The state-run agency reported Saturday that the head of General Security offered his assurances to Srour that he would work toward the release of her son.