BEIRUT: Sheikh Abbas Zogheib, tasked by the Higher Shiite Islamic Council with following up on the case of the 11 Lebanese pilgrims kidnapped in Syria, urged the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Saturday to take up the issue of the abductees.
“[I called on] the foreign ministers in the Gulf Cooperation Council, who are meeting Sunday in Jeddah, [Saudi Arabia], to put the case of those kidnapped on their agenda,” Zogheib said in a statement.
The GCC consists of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
“Without an appropriate solution, the consequences of the case will reach them,” he warned.
The 11 men were kidnapped on May 22 after crossing into Syria from Turkey. They had been on their way back to Lebanon from a pilgrimage to Shiite holy sites in Iran.
Zogheib has appealed to all those capable of securing the release of the pilgrims, asking them to intervene. He has also made more pointed appeals – coupled with veiled threats.
Earlier this week, Zogheib warned that Turkish nationals in Lebanon could face the same fate as the Lebanese hostages if Turkey does not strive to resolve the case.
Prime Minister Najib Mikati has said that the kidnapped Lebanese are being used for leverage in domestic politics, and that his government and its Turkish counterpart are doing everything they can to secure their release.