TRIPOLI, Lebanon: Relatives of Salafist fighters killed in Syria last month briefly blocked a highway in Tripoli Thursday, urging the government to work on the swift repatriation of the bodies of their loved ones.
There are only three remaining bodies in Syria, a senior security source told The Daily Star, adding that no specific date had been scheduled for them to be returned.
Over the last two weekends, the bodies of six Lebanese and one Palestinian have been returned, in two rounds.
Protesters gathered at around 3 p.m. near the Abu Ali Roundabout on Tripoli’s northern entrance Thursday and parked several cars in the middle of the eastern lane of the highway.
Family members chanted slogans against what they labeled “procrastination in returning the bodies.”
The Salafist fighters were killed in an ambush by the Syrian army in late November near the Syrian town of Tal Kalakh. They hailed from Tripoli and the surrounding area.
Addressing demonstrators, Sheikh Mohammad Ibrahim, who represents the families of the slain Salafists, warned that the relatives would escalate action if their demands remain unmet.
Ibrahim warned that if the bodies were not returned Sunday, “we will deal with the matter differently.”
However, the security source described the protests and ultimatums as pointless: “They tell us we want all the bodies back in one batch, as if the decision is in our hands.”
Initial reports suggested that around 20 Lebanese fighters had been killed in Syria, but the security source said Thursday that “the Syrian authorities provided us with 14 photos and the families identified all their relatives, which turned out to be 10.”
The security official explained that Hasan Srour, who was among the Salafist group, had been detained by Syrian authorities and was still alive.
In a separate case, Ibrahim also called on the government to work on bringing back the bodies of Mujahid Dandashi, Khaled Saleh and Maher Derbas, all of Akkar, which Ibrahim said have been held by the Syrian regime for 10 months. He also called for the release of Srour.