BEIRUT

Lebanon News

Families of Lebanese hostages rally in Beirut

Relatives of the kidnapped Lebanese pilgrims held in Syria rally outside the Interior Ministry in Beirut on Friday, Dec. 7, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Families of the nine remaining Lebanese hostages held by Syrian rebels said Friday they want their loved ones back at any cost.

“We are willing to destroy Lebanon for the sake of getting our sons back,” one protester shouted outside the Interior Ministry.

“No one asked about us – not [Parliament Speaker Nabih] Berri nor Hezbollah,” another demonstrator complained.

The protesters briefly blocked the road to the ministry in the Sanayeh neighborhood as they called for the immediate release of the men who were kidnapped near Aleppo's northern Syrian town of Azaz in May.

Interior Minister Marwan Charbel met with a delegation from the hostages' families following talks with Prime Minister Najib Mikati and police chief Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi on the latest clashes in Tripoli, north Lebanon.

The National News Agency reported that Charbel discussed the details of the case with the hostages’ families and briefed them about the Cabinet’s effort to resolve the matter.

“There are some difficulties impeding the release of the kidnapped. I told this to the families but we are trying to resolve the case,” said Charbel.

No details were available concerning the meeting between Charbel and the hostages’ relatives.

During the rally, the protesters called on MP Oqab Saqr to re-establish talks with the families of the hostages in an effort to facilitate the men’s release.

Saqr, a lawmaker in former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s Future bloc, has at one point been involved in negotiations to win the release of the hostages.

Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour, who traveled to Turkey over the weekend, said Sunday he had held “positive” talks with officials on the issue of the nine Lebanese hostages.

Mansour was speaking to reporters at Beirut Airport upon his return from Istanbul after attending an Arab-Turkish cooperation forum.

Eleven Lebanese Shiites were abducted in Azaz on May 22 while returning from a pilgrimage in Iran. Two of them were later released.

The abduction sparked a wave of retaliatory kidnappings of Turks and Syrians by armed groups in Lebanon.

But the Lebanese Army launched a security dragnet in Beirut’s southern suburbs in September that led to the release of kidnapped Syrians and Turks and the arrest of their captors.

 

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